Caroline Innerbichler originally hails from the Twin Cities, and is no stranger to being Frozen. Especially playing the princess Anna on stage, in the hit Disney musical. Beginning at the Paramount Theatre, the latest touring stage adaptation of Disney’s animation hit factory, Frozen, the musical is something that children of all ages can look forward to seeing. Frozen, the musical dazzling crowds at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre February 7 – March 1, 2020. Get tickets and info here.
Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences?
Caroline Innerbichler: I’ve never been asked that. The first one that jumps out at me was Julie Andrews. Watching all of her films and showing that a woman playing an ingénue can put complexity and nuance into her characters. The hint of magic and reality is something special. Later on, Sutton Foster was definitely. She so incredibly herself in all of her roles. I imagine that she feels that she brings a lot of her own personality into the roles, and that allows it to come out very honest. Laura Osnes she is currently a Broadway performer (Tony nominated) and we grew up together in Minneapolis. She went into the audition right before me, and when I heard her sing I thought, “Oh my goodness. Listen to her voice!” We have been in multiple productions since elementary school, in junior high and high school. She’s definitely an icon in the Twin Cities. Watching how she is a triple threat and she is so genuine and kind and hard working.
Andrews-Katz: What show gave you the ‘theatre bug’?
Innerbichler: I think I’d have to say my parents took me to see a touring company of Les Miserables when I was way too young. I’d seen other plays at local theatres and high schools, and my parents have always been theatregoers. I think Les Miserables is one of the first musicals I saw. How the music and the story being combined to further the storyline, blew me away, all the emotions heightened by the music and the caliber of the show. That made me think that I wanted to be part of that. I remember looking around at the audience and seeing how everyone was feeling the same emotions at the same time. That was amazing.
Andrews-Katz: One of your first shows was Little House on the Prairie the musical. How did that audition come about?
Innerbichler: That was my first tour and it was my first time working at the Guthrie Theatre in the Twin Cities. I had been going to the University of Minnesota, Guthrie acting training program. I wasn’t a very good student, but loved my acting classes, so I had a hard time balancing my school schedule. I got several offers, and I heard they were having an open call for the workshop musical, “Little House on the Prairie”. I showed up to the open call, I was 19 and ended up getting cast as “Nellie Olesen” in the workshop. I went on the road and continued to study Nellie. That felt more like the way the trajectory of my college career was heading – finally leaving home, the Twin Cities, and striking out on my own. It was a test for me to cover multiple leads on that show.
Andrews-Katz: You understudied “Nellie Oleson”, she was a (sort of) historical figure, what kind of research did you do for the part? Did you ever meet Alison Arngrim – who played the role in the television series?
Innerbichler: Being from the Midwest, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series is a huge part of our upbringing. It’s always folded into reading lists. My family, specifically, we had a collection of stories from multiple columns that Wilder wrote, and we read them every year. I loved the way she was presented in the musical; it was fun being the character everyone loves to hate. There was one weekend when I was playing Nellie, and Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim were both there. Alison is such an incredibly kind and generous woman.
Andrews-Katz: Tell us about your live performances in Ready Freddy, a QUEEN cover band?
Innerbichler: I love musical theatre, and theatre in general. I think I started being a music lover first. My parents were always playing classic rock; I’m named after a Beach Boy song. My sister and I were always singing harmony to those classics. The last few years in Minneapolis, I befriended a group of singers and musicians, and they started to talk about starting a Queen cover band. I got to fulfill a dream of singing with two of my very best friends, and trying to orchestrate all of [Freddy] Mercury’s vocals for female singers. It was such a crazy mind puzzle, but I love all that nerdy stuff. It’s been something that I really miss when I’m on the road.
Andrews-Katz: Aside from “Ready Freddy”, you also perform in a Pink Floyd cover band called, “Jonny James and the Hall of Fames”. When performing on stage, do you prefer to be live concerts or scripted stage productions?
Innerbichler: They are bot amazing for different reasons. I love getting to be entirely myself. When I go on stage and sing, it kind of feels like singing in church to me; we’re all on the same cloud of music, and with specifically the music of Queen and Pink Floyd, people have such a connection with it. We come together with this type of music, and connect to others. It brings us together and we call all enjoy it and ride it together. It’s freeing. There’s a certain amount of artistic challenge when playing a stage role. I love the feeling of community that people bring together in musical theatre. I love giving myself over that as well.
Andrews-Katz: Currently you are playing “Anna” in the Disney musical “Frozen”. How are you most like your character and how are you most different from her?
Innerbichler: I would say that we are similar in the sense that we are both kind of goofy, and definitely not the typical type of ‘charming’. We posses a certain level of awkwardness that I’ve never been able to shake. I think a lot of people identify with Anna for that reason. A large part of me likes to lead with optimism, and that’s one thing I try to emulate like Anna. Even when she falls, she still has the conviction and the beautiful people that are around her, help her find her way. The ways we are different? She seems as optimistic as I can be, and she is drive towards a specific goal. I’ve always been the kind of person that likes to achieve goals, but also am kind of A.D.D. [Attention Deficit Disorder] in a way, and I’m always looking around “What’s over here?” and “What’s over there?” But mostly, we are similar.
Andrews-Katz: How is Anna a role model for younger girls and/or younger boys?
Innerbichler: Anna is a role model for everyone. Everyone identifies with her – young, old, male or female, because she isn’t the ‘traditional’ princess or heroine. She might seem a little awkward, and deals with her issues of how to work with people, or find love, while being different. I think a lot of people can identify with that. She doesn’t edit any way that she feels. She also doesn’t stop helping those that she loves. She wants the opportunity to nurture people, and I think a lot of people find inspiration from her because she doesn’t quit, nor edit herself. She’s being the best she can be. It’s like she’s saying, “you do you, and if you do it honestly, you’ll be fine”.
Andrews-Katz: What differences and/or changes have been made from the animated feature to the stage production of Frozen?
Innerbichler: So much! The thing that I appreciate the most is the use of the Ensemble as a storytelling device on stage. On stage, we have to craft the way to put focus on what we want to show the audience. Specifically what I love is the use of the ensemble as a community to welcome the audience in and say, “Here is a story of our town, and welcome”. They use it to play multiple characters. In the end it isn’t about two sisters; it’s about a group of people saying, “the fear and cold are gone and now we can move forward”. It feels really good that we get to telegraph that in this stage production. There are many more musical moments, (we’ve added 12 songs aside from those in the film) to flush out the storyline. It’s a beautiful story that was crafted from the original film. It’s an entirely different art form with characters that you already know.
Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of all limitations – what would it be and why that role?
Innerbichler: This is way too good of a question. I have seven answers immediately (remember the A.D.D. thing?) Because I have played a lot of younger characters, I would love to play somebody who is closer to my age. What woman doesn’t want to play “Sally Bowles”? She is so complex and there are so many different ways to approach that role. I love that story. Also, I would love to literally be ANY Ensemble member in Les Miserable. Just getting to sing that music, and tell that story of a larger story, would be great!
Caroline Innerbichler plays Anna, one of the two princesses in Frozen, the musical. Adapted from the hit animated feature, Frozen, the musical is the latest stage production from Disney.