Tweens, their parents, and other adaptation-fans are defrosting in time for February’s Broadway arrival of Frozen, based, of course, on the smash animated film that’s made more money than Slurpees.
Costarring as Elsa is Caissie Levy, who’s been in shows like Wicked, Ghost the Musical, and Hair, and who expressed her excitement over the new musical when I met her at a Feinstein’s/54 Below presentation of the cabaret’s upcoming talent. (Caissie will perform there next week. More on that later.)
I asked Caissie, naturally, how she got the Frozen part.
“I auditioned and had one of those magical auditions,” she answered, “when you’re just in the room and something clicks. I was set to replace Sara Bareilles in Waitress. I didn’t expect Frozen to happen. I was in callbacks.”
But her Waitress contract wasn’t, you know, frozen yet, so she was able to take the coveted new job. As for two amazing opportunities happening at once, she said, “That never happens. I’m fully aware!” Please, I’m still waiting for one.
The show, she said, is spectacular, and will surprise people who’ve seen the film because it’s been reimagined, and though every song from the movie is included, there are also no fewer than 12 new ones. Caissie gets to close Act One with “Let It Go” (“You’ve got to give the people what they want,” she laughed, adding that it’s been staged well and she’s allowed to go to her own vocal places on it). And in Act Two, she has an apparent monster hit called “Monster.” “It rivals ‘Let It Go’,” she said. “It’s a power ballad that’ll blow people’s minds.”
How does she protect her voice from all that belting?
“I’ve always been into vocal health preserving,” said Caissie, “with a lot of sleep, water and steam, and no loud parties and no booze. But this show is worth going on lockdown for.”
Hopefully, she’ll do the steam thing at home or the whole set could be destroyed.
Her take on the sisterly plot of chilling and redemption? “Elsa’s love story is built around her sister,” Caissie replied, admiringly. “It’s not about a man. They have to figure out their own stuff before they find their way back to each other. Elsa’s so fearful to be herself. She’s been taught that the thing that makes her special needs to be denied.”
When you raise children to deny who they are, she added, “it doesn’t turn out well.” I know—look at the Trumps.
While people are panting for Frozen, they can catch Caissie at Feinstein’s/54 Below with an 11pm New Year’s Eve show that will include some Beatles and Rod Stewart (she sang backup for him), as well as songs from some of her Broadway shows, but probably none from Ghost The Musical because that score is on the gloomy side.
“I’m trying to keep it happy!” she exclaimed. That’s great. Hold onto that feeling and don’t “let it go”!
In the 1960s, movies for young girls often starred Hayley Mills, who happens to be coming to City Center Stage in Party Face, a play by Isobel Mahon, directed by Amanda Bearse.
This is glad-making for various reasons. Hayley—who was sort of the original Lindsay Lohan–was the young star of films like The Parent Trap and Pollyanna, and she’s still working and still delightful. And Bearse is the out lesbian who was a co-star on Married…With Children and went on to a successful directing career in various media.
At a meet and greet last week, I asked Hayley if she has a lot of LGBT fans (knowing that she does; The Trouble With Angels almost turned me devout and still affects me, I swear).
“I don’t know,” she replied, sweetly. “I hope so.”
I wondered what’s propelled her to have such a long career—her talent and professionalism? “It’s luck,” she replied. “My dad [late actor John Mills] used to say, ‘It’s feast or famine.'”
Hayley added that she’s had her ups and downs, but she feels so fortunate to still be in the game and doing what she loves. In Party Face, Hayley plays an Irish woman who goes to her daughter’s party with food and a strongly suggested bff for her offspring.
“She’s a very organizing person,” said Hayley. “The appearance of things is all important. She resists facing reality.”
As for an old awards-show reality, was her dad surprised to win the Oscar for Ryan’s Daughter in 1971?
“He was absolutely dumbstruck,” she said. “He won for playing a deaf-mute.” (She wasn’t even trying to be funny with that one. By the way, Hayley won a special Juvenile Oscar herself, for Pollyanna. I was talking to an Oscar winner!)
At the event, I also spoke to Amanda Bearse, who said she thinks the first album she ever got, when she was eight, was Let’s Get Together With Hayley Mills. Related Bearse, “In my introductory email to her, I said, ’You really gave me permission to be the precocious kid I aspired to be.'”
Years later, Bearse aspired to be a full-time director, so after Married…with Children (many of whose episodes she directed), she departed acting to pursue her ambition.
“I shut that door,” she explained to me about acting. “Hollywood can be so limiting.” It’s so true—and when they get around to making the Broadway musical version, they get someone else!