Is "Frozen" in Tony Trouble?


While no one should be worried about whether or not Frozen is going to be a long-running Broadway smash, a concern that has been brought up to me by more than one theatre insider, is how much success will it have come June 10th at the Tony Awards. 

"Disney likes to make money," my source said. "But they don't like egg on their faces. And failure to win Tonys or even be nominated would certainly be that."

When I recently did our predictions for Tony nominations, I had Frozen walking away with 11. When I told my source that, they were quick to reply.

"I'd say it would be lucky to get half that as of right now. They're getting ignored by a lot of the other awards."

My source is right. When the Outer Critics Awards were announced, Frozen only had four nominations while other shows like Spongebob Squarepants(11) and Mean Girls(8) had much better results. 

The Drama Desk Awards proved even more shocking with their nominations by giving Frozen only two nominations with not even a Best Musical nod. What's even more surprising is how it's been ignored for many of the technical categories which are where I thought it would garner the most recognition. 

So has the love for Frozen run dry? Or is this Broadway's proverbial middle finger to the Disney Corp? 

 Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

While the reviews for Frozen were mixed, I thought it certainly was going to be a good match for The Band's Visit leading into Tony season. Now it looks like Spongebob Squarepants has claimed that spot. 

It also could have been naive of me to think Disney would dominate the awards season, after all, results from their previous theatrical productions haven't eluded that would be the case. While The Lion King won five of their ten nominations in 1998, Tony night hasn't been overly kind of Disney productions. The Little Mermaid only received two nominations. Mary Poppins received seven nominations but only won one. As did Aladdin with their five nominations and one win. Newsies fared better by winning two of their eight nominations. But Tarzan didn't garner any. Also before The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast did receive nine nominations but only won one. 

So is there a bias against Disney productions when it comes to award voters? I spoke to a Drama Desk voter who said, 

"You could say that. While Disney has certainly helped the industry, I can see where many people feel that their corporate imagery goes against what theatre is all about. It's hard to rewar producers from the richest company on the planet."

Like I said at the onset, nothing is going to unseat Frozen from box office success and a long run at the St. James Theatre. My over/under theatre pool has it there for 5 years. 

But come Tuesday morning, we'll find out how much Tony voters love Disney's latest 42nd product.