Kristen Anderson-Lopez and 'Up Here' Robert Lopez Bring Broadway to Broadway TV

How do musically talented couples spend Valentine’s Day? For songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez — who have been married for 20 years and have two daughters — it looks like It was a family dinner followed by music tech work a month before the premiere of their musical romantic comedy series Up Here.

However, blending personal and professional partnerships is nothing new. "The great thing about Kristen is she's my best friend," Lopez said. "Every day is like playing together. When we approach it right and put each other above the material, it always leads to better work."

Up Here is adapted from the couple's 2015 stage musical of the same name and revolves around the budding relationship between Lindsay (Mae Whitman) and Miguel (Carlos Valdez): two Lonely people, their insecurities (represented by singing) threaten to shorten their connections. It's the latest project in the Lopez couple's long-running collaboration, with the likes of Frozen 's "Let It Go" and WandaVision 's "Agatha Always" resonating with people and helping Lopez , 39, Won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award, becoming the youngest person ever to win the title of EGOT. (He recently became the first person to win two EGOT awards, while Anderson-Lopez only needs a Tony to complete the set.)

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But before they racked up all those trophies, they were a creative pair who met in New York in 1999 — just like Lindsay and Miguel. "Neither of us has been on a date since the '90s... so we didn't want to write about swipes and apps and stuff like that," Lopez said. The recent "Set Up Here" saw the couple explore their personal experiences, although the show is not autobiographical. "I can guarantee you, [Robert] has never cried while jerking off," Anderson-Lopez said, referring to a particularly awkward broadcast in the first episode.

The eight-episode season (now streaming on Hulu) features original songs and music by Katie Finneran, Andréa Burns and Brian S. Co-starring Broadway celebrities including Brian Stokes Mitchell. "We really wanted to see if we could do a new musical in another genre that we love, which is a streaming half-hour sitcom series," Anderson-Lopez said. “See if you can take it as seriously as going to Broadway, seeing a new musical in New York.”

Below, the Lopezes discuss their collaboration, the Frozen family, and their go-to lyrics for overcoming songwriter's block.

On bringing this to TV

Which song is the funniest?

Kristen Anderson-Lopez: There was something magical about filming "What If." On Sixth Street, the same street I walked down when I was in my twenties in the nineties. I can't afford to live there. I had to live in Washington Heights at the time. So the whole street was shut down and there were huge moonlights and cameras everywhere and dancers and trailers - it was a very surreal moment.

Robert Lopez: For me, this is the main title slash ending. This is our dream: to write the main title for our own sitcom. On Friends, you hear "I'll be there for you," and you hear a shortened version of it at the beginning of every episode. Then they released a longer radio version. We thought [the idea] would be cool to use as an ending to the entire musical, so we surprised the audience with more of the song. It goes on and on, reaching a climax that brings everyone back. It's cool to take things from TV, from Broadway - the main title and the finale - and blend them together.

Were there any music television shows that inspired you when it came to bringing your adaptation from stage to screen?

Kristen: Every music television show. When I was a little kid, I used to think God’s intention was for me to pray to them to do The Brady Bunch musical: “Dear God, please let it be the one where they try to win the plate. Episode. "Their Mom and Dad's Anniversary," or, "Please let Peter's voice change." "From there, the fame grew. Then Annie was adapted into a musical [movie] with Erin Quinn. And then came Glee. We're huge fans of Schmigadoon! If there's singing and storytelling, we're in There.

On Partnership in Various Senses

As your partnership continues to grow, what has surprised you most about working together?

Robert: We used to hate when a song was cut. But now, because we love our process so much more than before, we don’t mind if a song gets cut because we can go back and write another song – that’s our favorite thing.

Kristen: It's not surprising to me, but when he spontaneously creates a beautiful piece of music - it's such an incredible gift to be the first person to hear it from one of the world's top composers.

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What was the first dance song at your wedding?

Kristen: This is "In My Life" (by The Beatles).

Robert: Classical short passage, piano solo. We danced an impromptu court waltz.

Kristen: Bobby also composed the wedding march. We did not do a traditional wedding march. I walked down the aisle to a beautiful original composition. My friend James Allen composed a beautiful version of "Irish Blessing." Everyone sings a cappella.

Robert: My brother-in-law asked the DJ to play the "Chicken Dance."

Are there any songs from the '90s that remind you of the early days of your relationship?

Robert: The CD we had in the player at the time was the Magnolia soundtrack, all the Aimee Mann songs. That's how we like it. That's where we started this new version of Up Here - we came up with the idea of ​​a six-piece indie rock band, and we put it together with Tom Kitt, who, along with myself and Justin Ward Justin Ward Weber arranged the music together. It's different than a lot of projects we've done where we have a bigger orchestra with clarinets and things like that. This is rock music.

Kristen: It’s so funny because when we record, we tell stories an hour before we play. I'd say, "Well, I need you to put your most jealous, alienated feelings into this," in "so many ways." In "I'm Not Alone," I said, "I want you to feel cosmically connected to the people you love. Put your biggest, most romantic, softest heart into the playing." And it does. Changed the way music is produced.

What music do you turn to when you need to escape writer's block or creative funk?

Christine: “Whatever you do, let it come from you, and then it will be new” [from Sunday in the Park with George ’s “Moving On”], that’s basically what Sondheim gave everyone A beautiful stream-of-consciousness gift from a writer--every artist--on how to get over writer's block.

Robert: Another incredible thing we had during the process was the writers’ room. We were able to delve into this collective hive of stories, feelings, and ideas and come up with countless ideas for a song. Not only that, but Steven Levenson is one of Broadway's best book writers and understands the architecture of musicals. It's a wonderful collaboration. We had to write all this stuff in a very short period of time, and I don't remember ever being stuck.

Christine: No, we have so much to say about self-doubt, paranoia, and paralyzing voices.

About their frozen family—and their real family

Frozen turns ten this year! How do you view the soundtrack's legacy today?

Kristen: There’s an incredible family in Frozen. We have a group chat — whenever something good happens to Kristen [Bell] or Idina [Menzel] or Jonathan [Grove] or [director] Jennifer [Lee] or Chris Buck, we Will connect with this incredible group of artists and humans. Ten years ago I didn't realize we would have something like this.

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ROBERT: And, most of the 10 years since Frozen came out have been spent making more Frozen -- making the Broadway show, making Frozen 2 . Now they've announced Frozen 3. Honestly, this is one of the greatest ever. Having these characters that support the building of more and more musical universes is the joy of our lives.

Your family is an important part of your story. Does music play an important role in your daily life?

Kristen: Oh, yes. Both of our children are in musical theater. One of them had just played Oliver Ostrovsky in a spelling bee. We watched it four times in four days. The other one is "Goodbye, Goodbye, Birdie". Both of them are very musically gifted. Katie, our oldest daughter, is transforming into a beautiful singer-songwriter. When she sends me a song, I feel as excited as Taylor Swift releasing an album. Because she is so good and her voice is so beautiful. I'm more than just a stage mom! I really think she has something special because she has her father's melodic sensibility and my psychological sensibility.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity .