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'Frozen' co-songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez's R-rated side

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Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were honorees at the 2015 Los Angeles Children's Chorus' Annual Gala.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were honorees at the 2015 Los Angeles Children's Chorus' Annual Gala.

She's best known for her work on Disney's "Frozen," but Kristen Anderson-Lopez explores more adult themes (and language) in her Broadway musical, "In Transit."

When she’s working on Disney musicals like "Frozen," Kristen Anderson-Lopez writes family-friendly songs. But now, she’s showing off her R-rated side. 

“In Transit” is an a capella musical that Anderson-Lopez co-created with three other writers — James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth. It had a critically acclaimed run off Broadway in 2010, and now it’s at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Anderson-Lopez joined Frame host John Horn in the studio to discuss “In Transit,” her childhood love of theater, and how musicals fail female protagonists. 


Interview Highlights

On discovering theater as a child:

My dad says there was a moment [when] he took me to watch my next door neighbor go practice the high school play and my eyes just opened up. He said,  That was the moment I knew — oh no, my daughter's going to go into show business. It was very, very early.

On finding her way to writing and directing:

I was always doing things in my backyard like writing plays and putting them on. And then somehow I got the message that a girl who likes theater has to be an actress, even though I really was a writer-director first. It took me a long time to find my way back to my five-year-old, backyard, director-writer self. There weren't a lot of examples. The people on the cast album, in general, were men. And the people winning the Tonys tended to be men, and those were the people that won the creative awards. The actresses won the acting awards.

On the similarities between marriage and creative partnerships:

I think that the skills you need for marriage to sustain itself are the same skills you need with a writing partner with projects of this intensity. The ability — when you are so furious and your ego has come out in a huge way — to be able to say, You know what? We need a timeout! And know that in 45 minutes, you’re going to calm down and this person you want to kill is going to be your best friend. And you’re going to get back to it. Isn’t that what marriage is about?

On female protagonists:

I really am trying to broaden the spectrum of behavior that a female protagonist is allowed to display. I love musicals, but often there is a gap they had to shoot of a beautiful woman who had some feistiness, but often her job is to find a man. I would like to allow for that beautiful woman with feistiness to also be able to really mess up. And maybe not be likable sometimes, maybe not be that noble. Because there are a lot of male protagonists who are allowed to be unlikable and go through an arc. 

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