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The inside story behind Anna and Kristoff's new Broadway 'Frozen' duet (plus exclusive song premiere)

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Frozen Broadway stars Patti Murin (Anna) and Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) perform the new song “What Do You Know About Love?” (Photo: Deen van Meer/Disney)

In the Disney film Frozen, Anna and Kristoff realize they need each other after they fend off an attack by hungry wolves. For the Broadway adaptation of Frozen, now in previews, songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez transformed that moment by taking away the wolf chase and adding a rousing duet. The new song “What Do You Know About Love?” is a musical sparring match between Anna, the sheltered princess desperate for true love, and Kristoff, the ice harvester who loves only his reindeer, Sven. While trekking up a mountain to find Anna’s sister, Elsa, who has threatened to curse the kingdom of Arendelle with permanent winter, Anna and Kristoff debate their very different views on romance — and end up saving each other’s lives. Listen to “What Do You Know About Love?” exclusively on Yahoo Entertainment, below, and read on for the full story behind the number.

As the songwriters (who collaborated with bookwriter and Frozen screenwriter Jennifer Lee) explain to Yahoo Entertainment, “What Do You Know About Love?” is sung just as Anna (Patti Murin) and Kristoff (Jelani Alladin) are beginning their journey together, both literally and emotionally. In the play, Anna meets Kristoff at the same time she meets her almost-instant fiancé, Prince Hans (John Riddle), and Kristoff becomes, in Bobby’s words, “a little bit of a third wheel in the middle of their awkward meet-cute moment.” So it’s no wonder that he’s skeptical of Anna’s whirlwind engagement. When Elsa unleashes her storm on Arendelle, Anna and Kristoff become reluctant travel companions. Their duet begins as they approach a treacherous rope bridge covered in ice.

“Ultimately this song is a battle of philosophies,” says Kristen. “Anna is someone who believes that true love can save everything, that love is an intuitive superpower that she knows and has.” In contrast, Kristoff is “used to getting screwed over by people,” says Bobby. “He’s seen a little bit of the world, and the only dependable person in his life is his reindeer. So he approaches the world from a place of mistrust. And she is looking for love in all of the wrong places [because] she’s been starved for love her whole life.”

Jelani Alladin as Kristoff, with his reindeer, Sven, in Broadway’s Frozen. (Photo: Deen van Meer/Disney)

In the middle of the song, each character has a moment of almost tumbling from the mountain bridge. “They save one another through their own approaches to life,” says Kristen. “Anna, who jumps headlong, does something to save Kristoff, and his very careful planning does something to save her. And they have a moment where they arrive and go, ‘Look at how far we’ve come.’”

If “What Do You Know About Love?” sounds a little different than the Frozen songs your kids know by heart, it’s because the Lopezes wanted to flex the muscles of their 21-piece Broadway orchestra — and because they didn’t get much of a chance to write music for Kristoff in the film. The Broadway Kristoff is a more developed character, and his funky, upbeat duet with Anna is an intentional contrast to what Bobby describes as the “emotional, deep dark stuff” the pair has written for Elsa (including the new song “Monster”).  The songwriters identify Anna and Kristoff’s dynamic as ‘Hepburn and Tracy’ … or perhaps, Kristen and Bobby.

“I tend to go from a very intuitive, dive-in place, and Bobby likes to use logic and carefully plan everything,” Kristen acknowledges with a laugh.

Patti Murin (Anna) and John Riddle (Hans) in the Broadway musical Frozen. (Photo: Deen van Meer/Disney)

Toward the end of the show, when it becomes clear that Anna’s heart is freezing, the duet is reprised as a solo by Kristoff. At that point, he realizes that he was wrong about true love being impossible, because he feels it for Anna.  “It’s one of my favorite moments in the show,” says Kristen.

“And just as in our relationship,” adds Bobby, “the woman wins the argument.”

The stars of Frozen on Broadway. From left, John Riddle (Hans) Caissie Levy (Elsa), Patti Murin (Anna), and Jelani Alladin (Kristoff). (Photo: Andrew Eccles/Disney)

Frozen on Broadway is currently in previews and will open on March 22. For tickets visit FrozentheMusical.com.

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