Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Ends Broadway Run Due to Coronavirus

Brent Lang

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When Broadway re-opens, it will do so without a certain snow queen.

Disney Theatrical Productions announced Thursday that “Frozen” and its ubiquitous anthem “Let It Go” have hit their last high notes at the St. James Theatre. The show will close having played its final performance on Wednesday evening March 11, right before Broadway went dark due to the coronavirus. It will have played 825 performances and 26 previews.

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Other shows have also decided not to move forward when theater come back on line — some, such as “Hangmen” and a revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with Laurie Metcalf, before even formally opening. However, “Frozen” is the first major musical to dim its lights due to the pandemic.

Other shows that were slated to open, such as the highly anticipated revival of “Plaza Suite” with real-life marrieds couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, have pushed back their debuts into 2021. Currently, the Broadway League says theaters will remain closed through Labor Day, though many in the theatrical community expect the shutdown will extend into next year.

“Frozen’s” closure sent a shockwave through the industry, illustrating how hard it has been by the economic downturn. Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union that represents actors and stage managers in live theater, called on government leaders to redouble their support for the arts.

“Today’s news should be an all hands on deck moment for Governor Cuomo, Mayor De Blasio and Congress,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement. “The arts and entertainment sector drives the economy of New York, just like it does in cities and towns across the country. Decisions made in the days and weeks ahead will shape the future of the arts sector for years to come. Public officials at all levels must think much more boldly about supporting the arts or our entire economy will be slower to recover.”

Even before COVID-19 upended cultural life in New York, “Frozen” was having box office struggles. The show’s weekly grosses hovered around $1 million, a steep drop from its high of more than $2.6 million, and a disappointing result given its high production costs. In February, the Broadway show made several tweaks, including introducing a new song, “I Can’t Lose You,” that was part of “Frozen’s” touring production.

Disney said that over its two-year run, the show grossed over $150 million. It will continue its North American tour when public health officials lift restrictions on gatherings. Productions in Australia, the U.K., Japan and Germany are scheduled to open by next year. Disney still has “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” playing on Broadway.

“In the summer of 2013 when ‘Frozen’ began its road to Broadway two things were unimaginable: that we’d soon have five productions worldwide, and a global pandemic would so alter the world economy that running three Disney shows on Broadway would become untenable,” said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer Disney Theatrical Productions, in a statement.

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