How ‘Frozen’ Songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez make music for South Park, Disney, and Marvel
What do the writers of The Book of Mormon and Frozen have in common? Well, they’re the same people of course! Whether they’re making music alongside South Park-style jokes or crafting Disney power ballads, real-life married couple Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez know how to make a show sing.
From Broadway to Hollywood, from animation to live action, from original shows to adaptations, the Lopezes seem to have done it all onstage and onscreen. Learn more about this dynamic duo’s journey from adult puppets in Avenue Q to Marvel music with WandaVision.
Avenue Q is truly the little show that could. Robert Lopez met lyricist Jeff Marx BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and they began writing a show about muppets. Their first go, a muppet Hamlet parody, didn’t to anywhere after the Jim Henson Company and Disney said no, so they ventured on an original story featuring Sesame Street-style puppets about a recent college grad entering the real world, that delves into more adult topics than a kids’ TV program would.
Avenue Q opened on Broadway in 2003 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical and won Lopez and Marx the award for Best Score. After closing in 2009, the show moved off Broadway, where it ran until 2019.
Robert and Kristen also met in the same musical theatre workshop where Robert met Marx, and their first professional collaboration was on a stage adaptation of Finding Nemo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened in 2007. Some of the 19 songs in the 40-minute musical include “In the Big Blue World,” “Dory’s Ditty,” and “Just Keep Swimming.”
The Book of Mormon
Hello! Robert Lopez teamed up with Jeff Marx again for the musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that takes a satirical look a Mormonism. They started talking about the show when Parker and Stone came to see Avenue Q on Broadway, and Lopez and Marx got drinks with them after and discussed how South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut influenced the musical.
The show, which follows an odd couple of Mormons on a mission to Uganda, opened on Broadway in 2011 and won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and also won the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.
Winnie the Pooh
When Disney calls, the Lopezes answer, and their second co-writing endeavor was on the 2011 Winnie the Pooh animated film. They wrote seven songs for the film, one with Henry Jackman, and Kristen even voiced Kanga, the mother kangaroo, in the film. The film remains Disney’s most-recent traditionally animated film.
Okay, here’s where we really let it go! For their third Disney collaboration, the Lopezes hit the big time with Frozen, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Snow Queen. The Lopezes wrote all of the film’s songs, including their Oscar and Grammy-winning chart-topping hit “Let It Go,” which solidified Robert Lopez as the 12th person to EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.) It is the fifth highest-grossing film of all time and launched a successful film franchise.
Robert and Kristen’s first forway into onstage musicals together came with Up Here, a romantic comedy that opened in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2015. Described as Annie Hall meets Cirque du Soleil, the production was directed by Alex Timbers. They started writing the musical in 2006, and it follows an introspective guy as he struggles to learn how to communicate and connect.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s a capella musical In Transit, which she wrote with James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth, began Off-Broadway but it made its Broadway debut at Circle in the Square in 2016. The show follows interconnected stories of New Yorkers on the (you guessed it) transit system, and the show won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding ensemble.
This 2017 heartfelt Pixar film earned the Lopezes their second Oscar together (and made Robert Lopez a double EGOT). They won the Academy Award for their song “Remember Me,” which was one of the many numbers they wrote for the film about a young boy who reconnects with his ancestors on Dia de los Muertos.
Frozen on Broadway
Frozen premiered on Broadway in 2018, and the Lopezes wrote several new songs to build out the musical’s score for the stage including a duet for Anna and Kristoff “What Do You Know About Love?” and the second act solo “Monster” for Elsa. The writer and co-director of the film Jennifer Lee also wrote the book of the musical.
The Frozen franchise is strong, and the sequel hit the big screen in 2019 with songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez again. The pair received an Oscar nomination for their song “Into the Unknown.” The movie follows Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven as they venture into the enchanted forest to connect with their ancestors and protect Arendelle from mysterious spirits.
The Avengers need music too, okay? Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote a series of theme songs for the Disney+ Marvel series WandaVision, which spoofed 1950’s television shows, but their song “Agatha All Along” went viral.
Frozen in the West End
Frozen has played on Broadway, across the United States, in Australia, and more, and the Disney megahit will land in London’s West End in August 2021. Samantha Barks is starring as Elsa, alongside Stephanie McKeon as Anna, Craig Gallivan as Olaf, Oliver Ormson as Hans, and Obioma Uguala as Kristoff. Let it go, London!