Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The stars and composer of Broadway's Frozen the Musical say they think the story of two sisters whose love triumphs over evil is the perfect one to tell in the Time's Up era.
Based on Disney's 2013 animated movie, the stage show begins previews in New York Thursday, just as the issues of female empowerment and equality are at the forefront of a national conversation in the media and workplace.
Starring Caissie Levy, Patti Murin, Jelani Alladin, Greg Hildreth and John Riddle, the musical features more than a dozen new songs by Oscar-winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, as well as favorite tracks from the film, including the breakout hit, "Let it Go."
The show, which debuted in Denver last summer, expands on the story of orphaned princesses -- the icy Elsa and bouncy Anna -- who live together in a Nordic castle, but no longer spend time together because Elsa can't control her supernatural ability to freeze things and doesn't want to harm her last, remaining family member. Unlike many fairytales, Frozen ends with one sister saving the other from a power-hungry villain, instead of being rescued by a handsome prince.
"I've played a lot of sexy roles and a lot of rock 'n' roll roles on Broadway and this is the first time in my career I've ever had a love story revolve around somebody who is not a man and we need to hear that right now," Levy, who plays Elsa, told UPI recently at a press day for the show in Manhattan.
"There was always love from the very beginning and they are just trying to find their way back to each other. And Elsa sacrifices her entire life for her sister," Levy explained. "She shuts herself away, so her sister can be safe. Nobody understands why Elsa does it. She doesn't speak on it. She doesn't try to defend herself. She just hides and then, at the end, we have this shift where then Anna sort of repays her sister and sacrifices herself for Elsa, and it's all in the service of finding their way back to each other."
"It's so moving and so empowering and something that I think, especially, women need to hear and see, but everyone needs to hear and see," she added.
Murin, who plays Anna, said she feels as though the Frozen movie ignited a "girl-power movement" for young fans several years ago and now the musical re-inforces the concepts of female equality and heroism.
"I'm pretty sure Anna grew up lonely, reading Snow White and thinking, 'Some day my prince will come.' And this is a message, seeing that true love is not necessarily with someone romantic, that it's with the person that matters the most to you in the world... that is a message that I am really proud to be putting out there," Murin said.
"It's a conversation that has really needed to happen for a long time," Anderson-Lopez said of the Time's Up movement, which seeks fair treatment, rights and pay regardless of gender.
The music composer and real-life mother of two daughters then related how she recently ran into a fellow artist at BroadwayCon, who told her, "I think why Frozen had the impact it did is because it gave the Disney princess subjectivity."
"And I thought, 'That's a really smart thing to say.' But to be the subject of their own story instead of the object," Anderson-Lopez said. "And I think that's what this Time's Up movement is all about -- that we are tired of reacting and we're tired of being constantly fitting ourselves into boxes the size that we are allowed to be and, certainly, that's what Elsa is about. She's saying: 'I'm going bigger. I might have to be alone...' And her sister coming and re-inforcing, 'No, you be big, and I'm here for you.'"
"I think that's also what this Time's Up movement is: the power of women speaking up and not getting thrown under the bus for speaking up. Women speaking up and other women saying, 'You can keep speaking up because when you speak up, you make it better for everyone.'"
Alladin said he thinks casting him in the show as good-guy, ice harvester Kristoff -- who was Caucasian in the film -- also makes a positive declaration.
Asked what he thinks about how Frozen will be a lot of children's first theater-going experience, he replied: "That, for me, is an incredible honor, especially, as an African American to play Kristoff..."
"Not even to re-define, but to show a different side of what this human being can do, what the spirit of the character is because I think a lot of people, in some sad way, we see what is presented to us and that is only what it is. Where it can be ALL things," he added. "I'm excited to show that to little kids with the show. I hope a little black boy -- like I did when I saw The Lion King as a little kid -- comes and sees me in the show and is inspired."