FLASH FRIDAY: Disney's Biggest & Best Musical Blockbusters - SNOW WHITE To FROZEN
Today, in honor of Disney's newest animated feature film musical FROZEN topping the charts as both the #1 film and its soundtrack becoming the #1 album in the country, we are taking a look at some of the biggest and best Disney blockbusters to date - and the unforgettable musical moments within them.
Let It Go
While it is virtually impossible to calculate the immeasurable influence that the films of Walt Disney have had on the minds and hearts of generations ever since the debut of his first major animated musical feature in 1937 with SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS, the eyes and ears of those indoctrinated into the wonderful world of Disney owe him just as much. Truly, no other movie studio has produced the sheer amount of memorable musical moments that Disney has done over the last seventy or so years besides perhaps MGM, and, even then, their reign at the top of the movie musical food chain was relatively short-lived in comparison to the half-century-plus streak currently being enjoyed by the house of mouse - with their most recent creation, FROZEN, having already cleared the $500 million mark at the box office and introduced a whole new generation to Broadway's best.
Broadway's best, you say? Indeed. Undoubtedly, insofar as theatre credentials go, the pedigree of FROZEN is pristine and virtually unmatched in any recent feature film - Tony Award-winning AVENUE Q and THE BOOK OF MORMON songwriter Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez contributed the music and lyrics, while all of the lead roles are occupied by major musical theatre stars, as well.
Of course, Tony Award-winning WICKED leading lady and GLEE featured player Idina Menzel sings the film's standout song, "Let It Go", but, then, there is occasional Broadway hoofer Kristen Bell giving glorious voice to the other female protagonist, as well - Bell being a Broadway baby byway of THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER; not to mention her indelible association with REEFER MADNESS: THE MUSICAL both onstage and onscreen. Additionally, SPRING AWAKENING original lead and GLEE guest star Jonathan Groff lends his charming tenor to a tune, while THE BOOK OF MORMON's Josh Gad voices the lovable snowman Olaf and RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA Prince Charming himself, Santino Fontana, is on hand to share a lovely duet, too. It's an impossibly rich buffet of top theatrical talent, given ample opportunity to show off their tremendous skills with the dynamic, dramatic, compelling and engrossing world crafted by FROZEN directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck.
Yet, FROZEN is far from the first Disney tentpole release to display significant theatre acumen - actually, it would almost be easier to list the hit Disney films without an essential ingredient originating from the world of Broadway. Although the Sherman Brothers may be responsible for more hit Disney songs than any other team, they undoubtedly come from the Great American Songbook tradition and have also subsequently seen their screen work show up onstage byway of the recent Broadway and West End mountings of MARY POPPINS (as well as non-Disney CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) in addition to a recently presented premiere production of THE JUNGLE BOOK, besides their musicals crafted especially for the theatre, such OVER HERE! and BUSKER ALLEY, among others.
Then, there is Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Stephen Schwartz, Elton John and Tim Rice - five men whose music and lyrics are not only an integral part of the Broadway landscape, but also individuals responsible for excellent entries in the Disney canon, as well. And, the gifted geniuses employed to create the many musicals celebrated in our clip collection today goes even beyond them, believe it or not.
After all, as the legendary Disney movie musical song goes, "A dream is a wish your heart makes..."
A Whole New World
So, now, let's take a look at and listen to the top tunes from Disney's best songwriters as we celebrate the success of FROZEN at the box office and on the music charts.
First up, get a glimpse of where it all began with SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS.
Next from Walt Disney came PINOCCHIO and the subsequent introduction of one of the company's most iconic songs, "When You Wish Upon A Star".
After that, Disney redefined what music in film could do with the boundary-breaking FANTASIA.
DUMBO showcases a lovable ballad titled "Baby Mine", as well as other terrific tunes.
BAMBI came next, featuring the lilting "Love Is A Song".
SONG OF THE SOUTH showcased the earworm "Zip-a-dee-doo-da".
The 1950s began with a bang thanks to CINDERELLA.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND is brimming with catchy tunes, too.
PETER PAN let us all believe that "You Can Fly".
THE LADY & THE TRAMP featured jazz and pop icon Peggy Lee with "He's A Tramp".
After that, SLEEPING BEAUTY redefined elegant animation - with a Tchaikovsky score, no less!
While MARY POPPINS was not animated, the Sherman Brothers showstopper "Jolly Holiday" definitely was.
THE JUNGLE BOOK featured another stellar Sherman Brothers score.
BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS is highlighted by another famous singular animated musical sequence, led by Angela Lansbury and company.
PETE'S DRAGON supplied Helen Reddy a radio hit via "Candle On The Water".
POPEYE turned the tables and made animation into reality, with mixed results, despite a Harry Nilsson score.
OLIVER & COMPANY adapted Charles Dickens's OLIVER TWIST, complete with a funky twist (or two).
Then, the modern Disney renaissance began byway of THE LITTLE MERMAID and the world was thereby introduced to the indescribable magic of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
Modern classic BEAUTY & THE BEAST came next - along with multiple Academy Award nominations.
Following that, ALADDIN brought Tim Rice into the fold - a partnership that would prove fabulously fruitful.
THE LION KING involved none other than rock icon Elton John and soared to the highest heights yet.
POCAHONTAS offered yet another Oscar-winning hit single and brought Stephen Schwartz into the world of Disney, too.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME was next, with another Menken/Schwartz score to savor.
HERCULES followed as the next Alan Menken musical from Disney.
Next, MULAN boasted another memorable musical score and an oft-covered standout single, as well.
TARZAN showcased a song-stack by hit-maker Phil Collins.
THE TIGGER MOVIE offered Kenny Loggins on its soundtrack.
ENCHANTED brought the Disney musical into the 21st century in a whole new way - once again masterfully merging animation and live action, but with a campy wink and nod all the while.
Most recently, TANGLED offered a fresh musical take on the tale of Rapunzel.
Lastly, FROZEN is a blizzard of musical brilliance. Case in point: Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" sequence. Wow!
So, what exactly is it about the animated form that allows musical theatre writers to create material for it that is so gripping, timeless and alive? Furthermore, what is your personal favorite Disney movie musical property to date? And, if forced to choose, your tip-topmost song of all? Whatever the project, creator and entity, the quality of material penned for the animated musicals by Disney is unparalleled and awe-inspiring to behold, to say the very least - as this vast clip collection clearly attests (and how).
SNOW WHITE to FROZEN and beyond, Disney is responsible for introducing countless individuals to the magic of musicals.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro