A few years ago, I pulled my mom into a Broadway theater to see the production everyone raved about, “Wicked,” a show designed to give the early years tale of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba. A few weeks ago, I pulled a friend and my little brother into the Grand Theatre to see the newest Disney movie everyone raved about, “Frozen.” This movie details the adventures of two princesses when one, Elsa, freezes their kingdom of Arendelle. The two shows were captivating, but my first thought when “Frozen” was over was, “Huh. That was just a children’s version of ‘Wicked.’” Did you notice it? Here are (spoiler alert!) a few of their similarities:
1. Sisters before misters: While both “Wicked” and “Frozen” feature romantic plot-lines, the main focus of the two stories is the relationship between two female characters. “Wicked” follows the evolution of the friendship between Elphaba and Galinda, the girl who eventually becomes Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. “Frozen,” meanwhile, chronicles the closeness, separation and reconnection felt by Elsa and her younger sister, Anna. True love for these women does not entail a boy picking up their glass pumps or a nap-ending smooch, but a bond which transcends time and trials.
2. A troublesome power: Elphaba has the ability to do powerful magic, like morphing men into scarecrows. Elsa can freeze whatever she likes, including entire kingdoms. Neither Elphaba nor Elsa really understands her powers, but throughout the story, both come to realize their capabilities.
3. A kingdom of isolation: Because of these powers, both women experienced strong feelings of separation from their peers, in school and in the castle. In “Wicked,” the fact that Elphaba had green skin also tended to make her less approachable. Elsa’s ever present ice-controlling gloves were probably a bit of a turnoff for potential playmates.
4. Idina Menzel: The most obvious commonality of the two, Idina Menzel’s starring role in both “Wicked” and “Frozen” cannot be overlooked. While Menzel is no longer Broadway’s Elphaba, her portrayal as the opening night Wicked Witch and voicing for the official soundtrack have cemented her as the green girl in the minds of theater lovers everywhere. Imagine “Defying Gravity” without her? It is impossible. In “Frozen,” Menzel again lends her vocal talents to portray a young woman, Elsa, struggling to find her place and working with mysterious magical forces. “Let It Go,” the breakout song of “Frozen,” has garnered over 60 million views on Disney’s YouTube channel alone. These two songs both speak to the power of the individual, but it is likely that neither would have been as successful without Menzel.
“Wicked” has been called the best musical of the decade by Entertainment Weekly and is the recipient of over 50 awards, according to its official website, wickedthemusical.com. It has been running for more than ten years. “Frozen,” was released this past Thanksgiving and recently passed “The Lion King” to take the spot of Disney’s second-highest grossing non-sequel animated film, bringing in over $800 million worldwide, according to Wrap.com.