There’s a new Olaf coming to Frozen on Broadway, and she’s kind of a big deal. When stage and TV actress Ryann Redmond takes over the role of Olaf in the musical production of Frozen this February, the snowman will become the latest gender-swapped character on a Disney stage.

Olaf may not have a gender, strictly speaking, but he’s always been played by men: voiced by Josh Gad in the 2013 movie and played by Greg Hildreth on Broadway. That will change when Ryann Redmond steps into the role starting Feb. 19, making Olaf the second Disney on Broadway character to undergo a gender swap: The Lion King's Rafiki was voiced by Robert Guillaume in the film and was reenvisioned for the stage by Julie Taymor as a female character. 

Gender-swapping characters is popular among cosplayers and Tumblr illustrators, and for a moment a vague casting call made it seem like even the famously diverse cast of Hamilton would open roles to both genders. It’s also been something of a trend in theater for a few years: Tony winner Glenda Jackson is starring as a female King Lear on Broadway now, and in 2012 the Donmar Warehouse in London staged an acclaimed all-female production of Julius Caesar

Redmond’s previous Broadway credits include Bring It On The Musical and If/Then with Idina Menzel, who voiced Elsa in the Frozen movie. She also confirmed the casting news on Instagram:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

☃️❄️Still can’t quite believe this is actually true. ❄️☃️ I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you to the entire @frozenbroadway and @disneyonbroadway team for even thinking a female could play this part. Thank you to @sweetdeechnyc for being the real puppet master. Thank you to my team at @kmrtalent for being there every step of the way. And thank you to my friends and family that continue to show me their endless pride and love. I cannot wait to jump into Arendelle at my beloved St. James theatre (where I made my broadway debut with Bring It On ?) See y’all in February! #ladyolaf #thefutureisfemale

A post shared by Ryann Redmond (@ryannreds) on

Also joining the Frozen cast is Joe Carroll (Once, Cinderella) as Hans, replacing original cast member John Riddle, while current cast member Noah J. Ricketts will step into the role of Kristoff originated by Jelani Alladin.

All three actors will perform their first show on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Frozen’s original leading sisters Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna) have extended their contracts with the production.

Frozen on Broadway 'isn't the cartoon'

disney on broadway olaf frozen musical genderswapped casting

The role of Olaf is a combination of puppetry and traditional Broadway acting. Credit: Disney on Broadway, YouTube

Frozen the Musical is an adaptation of the film's story for the stage, with additional emotional exploration, according to the songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The pair wrote the original score and lyrics for the film, and expanded the soundtrack with 12 new tracks for Broadway, more than doubling the nine songs in the Oscar-winning film.

“This isn’t the cartoon,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez told Metro. “It’s about a family that’s frozen into its roles because of a trauma, and how that dysfunction plays out, and how they heal it.”

Frozen opened at the St. James Theatre on March 22, 2018, joining Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway. A touring production is set to begin in Fall 2019 in Los Angeles.

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