–Bow down to the ‘Frozen’ stars ruling Broadway

March 14, 2018

The leads of Broadway’s “Frozen” would prefer not to use the “P” word.

“ ‘Princess’ is such a weighted word,” says Patti Murin. “People automatically think ‘pretty,’ ‘not necessarily intelligent,’ ‘prissy.’ Anna and Elsa are heroines!”

Caissie Levy (left) plays Elsa, big sister to Patti Murin’s Anna (right), in the Broadway musical “Frozen.” The actresses’ hand-embroidered costumes weigh up to 15 pounds each.Andrew Eccles

Caissie Levy seconds that emotion. She says the two characters are “complicated women” — one feisty, the other vulnerable, “just like real people!”

As many 5-year-olds and their parents can tell you, “Frozen” is the story of two royal sisters. The elder, Elsa (Levy), has the power to freeze anything in her path. Frightened by her magic and the harm it can do, Elsa flees her kingdom while her younger sister Anna (Murin) risks everything to find her — and save them both.

Based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and buoyed by a bright score, Disney’s 2013 animated feature grossed $1.2 billion and launched a million “Let It Go” singalongs. Now, to no one’s surprise, it’s a musical. After a triumphant tryout this past fall in Denver — headlined by Levy and Murin and awash with Elsa wannabes in the audience — the show opens next Thursday at the St. James Theatre.

It’s there, in Levy’s dressing room — as the curtain rises on the opening scene without them — that the show’s stars steal a few silly, sisterly moments.

“Before we get our costumes on, we dance around in our undergarments, which are very unattractive,” Levy tells Alexa. “It’s a great way to get moving!”

En route to “Frozen,” Levy appeared in “Les Miserables,” “Ghost” and “Hair,” while Murin popped up in “Lysistrata Jones” and “Xanadu” on Broadway. They also both appeared in “Wicked” (Levy as Elphaba, Murin as Glinda) — albeit at different times — but oddly enough, they’ve never shared the stage before “Frozen.”

“We bonded from the start,” Murin says from her cozy dressing room, a half-finished bowl of miso soup by her side. “We have a lot of really good mutual friends, so it was, ‘Oh, you love Caissie? Then I’ll love Caissie!’ ”

Gown, $6,475 at Jenny Packham; 18-k noble-gold earrings with quartz and diamonds, $2,800 at H.Stern; Tiffany & Co. 18-k gold ring with diamonds, $5,700 at Tiffany.Photo: Tom Corbett; Hair: Lindsay Block using Oribe; Makeup: Kim Bower using Lipstick Queen for Tracey Mattingly Agency

Not only that, but their husbands had known each other for years — and the couples live just half a block away from each other in Manhattan. “It was like it was meant to happen,” Murin says. “And we’re not fresh out of college and starry-eyed. We’re seasoned performers,” now in their mid-30s.

It seems their only source of contention is Murin’s near-fanatical devotion to “The Bachelor,” the reality-TV show Levy loathes. “I watched it last night,” she says with a shudder. “I saw Patti was tweeting about it and I turned it on. Horrifying! But she loves it, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

The actresses both recall seeing “Frozen” as soon as the movie opened. Murin went with her future husband, actor Colin Donnell (“Chicago Med,” “The Affair”), and Levy — now married to theater professor David Reiser and mother of 2-year-old Izaiah — with her girlfriends.

Sitting in the AMC movie theater on 84th Street, Levy immediately recognized what she calls “a perfect Broadway musical.” Her brother’s partner, a casting director, went even further: “You know your sister’s going to play that part when it goes to Broadway, right?”

Indeed, here she is — Elsa the snow queen. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, helped prepare Levy for the wintry onstage landscape (snowflakes even fall gently onto the audience at the end of the show), as well as her character’s steadfast determination.

“I was a tomboy — I climbed trees and played basketball,” says the diva, who arrives for rehearsal impeccably made up and wearing a newsboy cap like the one Barbra Streisand sported in “Yentl.” (Producers, take note: Levy says her dream is to star in “Funny Girl.”)

Murin, meanwhile, grew up in Hopewell Junction, NY, a “social butterfly” whose first-grade teacher moved her desk away from the others for “unnecessary talking,” a comment that appeared on many a report card thereafter. As we talk, Murin’s strawberry-blond hair keeps escaping its ponytail; it’s clear she was born to play Anna, described as “a tornado with pigtails.”

Both women are certainly dressed for the fairy tale. Levy calls her “Frozen” wardrobe nothing short of fabulous, even though her hand-embroidered gowns — in jewel tones of green, blue and purple — weigh about 15 pounds each. Some details, like the elegantly wrought designs atop her pumps, are too small to be seen by the audience, but Levy knows they’re there, and they make her feel royal.

Cristina Ottaviano bustier top and skirt, $5,995 for both at Moda Operandi; Sandals, $850 at Sophia Webster; Earrings, $169 at Swarovski, 200 W. 34th St.Photo: Tom Corbett; Hair: Sam Leonardi using L’Oreal Hair Care for Tracey Mattingly Agency; Makeup: Brittany Gharring using Kevyn Aucoin for Tracey Mattingly Agency

A few weeks ago, she was given yet another costume: a boots and pants ensemble she calls “Elsa’s badass, Joan of Arc look,” in which she tries to outrun the outraged villagers.

And then there’s her “Let It Go” moment: one of the most dazzling transformations ever seen on Broadway. Within a matter of seconds, her green coronation gown dissolves into a silvery, beaded “ice dress.” How do they do that?

“It’s Disney magic,” she says, smiling. “I’m not allowed to say. But I love hearing the audience roar!”

It’s quite a departure from the stars’ hip day-to-day looks. Now a mom, Levy has traded her sky-high stilettos for low-heeled half boots and “whatever’s at the top of the drawer that doesn’t have my son’s eggs on them.” Arriving in New York in her 20s, she remembers casting longing glances at Barneys and the stores along Fifth Avenue, wishing she could afford what she saw in their windows. These days, she’s a fan of good, structured clothing, which she usually finds at Intermix, and James Perse’s fitted T-shirts.

Murin likes T-shirts, too, hers decked out with cheeky slogans. A current favorite is: “This nap’s not gonna take itself.” A lover of rescue dogs — she and Donnell have two: Milo and Petey — she donned a “Buy pizza, not puppies” T-shirt before her show the other night.

Murin’s go-to wardrobe also includes Frye boots (“even the flat ones look so good, and they pretty much go with everything”), a few fitted button-down shirts, and Paige jeans. “They fit me really well and have higher waists,” she says. “I’m at that point in life when I don’t want to worry about anything hanging out.”

Since “Frozen” started playing in New York, audiences have been playing dress-up, too.

“There was an 8-year-old boy here the other night dressed as Elsa,” Levy recounts. “He had his dress and his crown, and I took a picture with him. He was adorable!”

At the stage door after each show, a sea of well-wishers of all ages waits to greet them.

“The one thing we always hear,” Murin says, “is ‘This is my sister’ or ‘This is my best friend, my Elsa.’

“And then they say, ‘Thank you!’ And we’re like, ‘Thank you! We wouldn’t be doing this if you fans weren’t buying tickets!’”

On Caissie (left): Bibhu Mohapatra gown, $7,990 at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave.; 18-k white-gold earrings with diamonds, $7,800 at David Yurman. On Patti: Dress, $5,995 at Reem Acra, 240 W. 35th St.; 18-k white-gold earrings with pavé-set lab-created diamonds, $2,465 at Anabela Chan; 18-k noble-gold ring with quartz and diamonds, $3,700 at H.Stern, 645 Fifth Ave.

Tom Corbett

On Patti (foreground): N°21 dress, $1,689 at Numero Ventuno; 18-k yellow-gold earrings with lab-created green tourmalines, aquamarines, canary diamonds and pavé-set white diamonds, $2,110; and 18-k white- and yellow-gold ring with lab-created diamonds, blue and yellow sapphires, topaz and turquoise, $1,953, both at Anabela Chan. On Caissie: Erdem “Honor” gown, $8,775 at Neiman Marcus; 18-k noble-gold earrings with quartz and diamonds, $2,000 at H.Stern, 645 Fifth Ave.; Sterling silver and 18-k rose-gold ring with blue topaz and diamonds, $1,725 at Ritani.

Tom Corbett

Gown, $8,000 at Romona Keveza; 18-k rose-gold earrings with diamonds, $12,200 at H.Stern, 645 Fifth Ave.; 18-k white-gold ring with diamonds, $19,075 at Djula.

Tom Corbett

Cristina Ottaviano gown, $6,990 at Moda Operandi; 18-k Noble gold earrings with diamonds, $4,200, 18-k Noble gold ring with diamonds, $7,500, and 18-k Noble gold ring with diamonds, $4,300, all at H.Stern, 645 Fifth Ave.

Tom Corbett

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