As novel as it might be to hear, pants on a Disney stage are having their debut.
Or as Caissie Levy, who plays Elsa in the Broadway production of “Frozen,” puts it: “A Disney princess has never been in a kick a– pair of pants and boots before onstage.”
When it came to adapting the classic film for the stage, much of the costuming stayed the same (including Elsa’s now iconic ice dress). But in the production’s second act, Elsa performs songs not heard in the movie that just didn’t feel right to Levy and the director to be sung in anything other than clothes in which she could move.
“Of course, I transform myself into the ice dress during ‘Let It Go,’ just like in the film, because it’s empowering and she unleashes her power and accepted her power,” Levy explains, noting that the dress took some 400 hours to make.
“And then in act two, with the new song that has been written for Elsa, called ‘Monster,’ it’s a song where she’s on the run and she’s being hunted, and the idea conceptually is that she’s in the middle of the night, on the run, maybe woke up to the guards being in her home and had to get out and flee. We had a shorter, lighter version of the ‘Let It Go’ dress that I wore for the Denver run and then into previews here. And we started to look at the costumes differently and we wondered if wearing this barefoot, nightgown-y version of my ice dress was really the right way to go, because now that moment is really about Elsa kicking some a–.”
Levy and the show’s director, Michael Grandage, sat down to discuss it late one night.
“We wanted something more powerful and more practical. And that’s where this idea of pants came in,” Levy says. “[Grandage] said ‘I’m starting to feel like that sort of negligee drape-y sweet-looking dress isn’t the way I want to go in.’ And I told him, ‘It sounds like you want a more Joan of Arc type thing and he was like, ‘Exactly! You’re a warrior, you’re empowered, you’re on the run.’”
By the next morning, the show’s costume designer Christopher Oram had close to 15 new looks to show them, all of boots and pants and a cape.
“I feels right for her story and the way her character has evolved,” Levy says. “We still get the classic, iconic Elsa ice dress look from the film that everyone has come to know and love, but now we get another side of her as well.”