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From the ITF Main Stage: Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical

Elsa from Disney's Frozen coming to the ITF 2024 Main Stage

At the heart of the International Thespian Festival, the main stage stands as a testament to the extraordinary achievements of high school Thespians. Joining them this summer is Troupe 6903 of Wauwatosa West High School with their production of Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical.

Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, Disney’s Frozen transports audiences to the beautiful kingdom of Arendelle, where Princesses Anna and Elsa grow up sheltered inside their castle, isolated from the world, and increasingly distant from each other. When Elsa is crowned queen, the magical powers she’s desperately tried to conceal take control, and she flees into the mountains. As a ferocious winter descends on Arendelle, Anna sets off on an epic journey to find Elsa and bring her home – with the help of hardworking ice harvester Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, and a happy-go-lucky snowman named Olaf.

Full of magic, humor, and a stunning musical score, Disney’s Frozen is a powerful tale of sisterhood, acceptance, and finding the real meaning of true love. EdTA chatted with troupe director Adam Steffan to get a peek behind the curtain.

1. This show was part of the United States of Frozen contest. Can you tell us about the experience and how your students and community got involved?

Our experience here in Wisconsin has been remarkable. Frozen has created opportunities for joy, collaboration, and love, giving students a space to shine and be part of something that had an impact. It’s been life-changing and something we’ll remember forever. Beyond the show, which sold out in 10 days (nearly 7,000 seats!), our community stepped up too. Local businesses hosted fundraisers, placed ads in our program, and created a buzz about this pilot production.

We were particularly proud of a local ice cream shop that created Olaf-themed ice cream desserts and a donut shop that designed themed donuts in honor of the production. Our mayor declared opening night Frozen Day in the city of Wauwatosa too! We’re so grateful to have been selected to be part of the United States of Frozen family.

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Students from Wauwatosa West High School performing in Disney's Frozen

2. How did you involve your students in the creative process and decision-making for the show?

Involving students in the creative process is so important in educational theatre. From day one, we worked with our student crew on creative ideas and design elements, with student leaders helping to form crews and make punch lists that helped keep everyone motivated and on task. As part of this process, students worked with intelligent lighting, lasers, and had to problem solve like never before!

3. Has your vision for the show evolved as you’ve gone through the process of preparing for the ITF stage?

This is like taking your show on a national tour and it’s something our school has never done before. In moments of panic and stress, I think of our cast, crew, and pit, and how cool (no pun intended) it is we get to revisit this production. We’re looking forward to getting it back up on its feet and making it even better!

Students from Wauwatosa West High School performing in Disney's Frozen

4. How do you balance the educational aspects with the artistic demands of directing a high school production?

Producing a show like Disney’s Frozen is a beast, especially at the high school level. But our students – the cast, crew, and pit – rose to the occasion! When Disney and the Educational Theatre Association announced we were the Wisconsin representative for the United States of Frozen, we began planning our production immediately, and involving students in the production process is key. This included building and designing all the costumes from scratch, creating the sets, working with lasers, and always making sure we were creating a unified design.

5. What is one piece of advice you would share with troupes hoping to make main stage next year?

I attended ITF first as a chaperone with another Wisconsin Thespian troupe. I got the lay of the land and took the opportunity to soak in the experience. It’s incredible. I knew I wanted to submit Frozen for main stage consideration, so I sought out seasoned main stage directors, asked for advice, and immediately started planning and dreaming. My takeaway? Everyone was supportive and encouraging, and they all raved about the experience.

Frozen Wauwatosa 4 scaled

6. What do you hope the audience takes away from your show, and why is this important to you?

I’ve been calling this our Frozen Era! When all is said and done, we’ve been planning and/or working on this production for nearly two years – we feel so lucky and grateful. At the heart of Frozen is a powerful, impactful message that we kept in mind throughout our rehearsal process: Let’s spread more love! After all, “Say goodbye to the pain of the past. We don’t have to feel it anymore. Love is an open door.”

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