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A New Broadway Musical About The Life Of Frida Kahlo

By: Ella Wang

Frida Kahlo is one of the most renowned painters in art history. The Mexican painter was known for her usage of autobiographical elements, which mixed realism and fantasy to explore themes of gender, race, class, and social status. On top of her artistic brilliance and progressive ideas, Kahlo also led a very fascinating life, making her the subject of many movies, TV series, books, etc.

At this point, it is hard to believe that there is any Frida Kahlo content left to create, however, on Thursday, “Frida, the Musical” was announced to be on Broadway in 2024. The show will be produced by Valentina Berger, and will include music by Jaime Lozano and lyrics by playwright Neena Beber. It will be starring Salma Hayek as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, painter Diego Rivera.

This show is the only musical to get permission to air from the Kahlo family. According to the Washington Post, some parts of the show will be based on the book “ Intimate Frida,” by Kahlo’s niece Isolda P. Kahlo, and by conversations with Kahlo’s family in Mexico.

Frida Kahlo’s life was one of tragedy. Kahlo got into an accident at 18 when a bus hit the trolley car she was riding, and a long metal rod tore through her abdomen. She suffered major internal injuries and was confined to her bed for a long time. She had a mirror placed above where she laid in bed, so that she could study herself to create some of her most iconic self-portraits. She painted herself mangled and bleeding to show the pain she was in. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 47.

While many know of Frida’s life to be misfortunate with a dramatic quality, there was also a brighter side to the story. According to Berger, who visited the Kahlo family last week, Frida would often tell her sisters to give her husband a bath before leaving on trips, “I mean, how close do you have to be to your sisters to suggest something like that?” Berger said to the Washington Post.

Throughout Berger’s trip, she gathered information that would hopefully help portray this lighter side of Frida in the musical. Berger listened to the songs that Frida always used to sing. She documented first-hand accounts of Frida, who was always laughing and telling crazy stories.

Lorenzo also visited the Kahlo family for inspiration to compose his songs. One of his songs,“Wings,” captures Kahlo’s persistence and joy during her immense suffering. It’s based on a famous quote from Kahlo, about her chronic pain after her accident: “Feet,” she said, “what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”

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