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Can Disney Classics make Hits on Broadway

Theatrefanboy1
Broadway Star
joined:8/2/15
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In my opinion I see Disney having a limited number of musical movies from the last 30 years to be used as a basis for creating a broadway musical. (I can only see Hercules, Pocahontas, Mulan, Enchanted and maybe Tangled being used) I was wondering if they would go further back to some classics like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan (the later two already having multiple classic versions on stage, and the second with a dilemma of having a lead character asleep for 75% of the show... that being said, the Phantom only has about 15-20 mins of stage time)

One thing Ive not enjoyed is when a new songwriting pair or person is added to the mix of the original. (Though I think beauty and the beast managed pretty seamlessly ). Shows like Pinocchio and The Jungle Book have also not faired well in their professional tryouts.

Coming out of this closure I think good popular titles will be important for a shows marketing and Disney has typically had a history with family shows. So I wonder if when they become a little depleted with the Mencken catalogue would they venture to older titles or look to producing more original shows like Aida and Peter and the Starcatcher
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
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5/18/03

There is already an existing stage version of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.

It debuted at the MUNY in St Louis, so in some ways, it is more of a pageant. It ultimately ended up being produced as a full stage production at Radio City Musical Hall in the late 1970s and is credited with single handedly saving the Music Hall from bankruptcy. It had a nice run and a return engagement and was actually filmed for TV broadcast. You can easily find it on YouTube, as well as an interesting documentary about it. Fair warning, the design elements are definitely 1970s, and the quality is definitely that of a limited run in a MASSIVE venue so the close ups are sometimes not flattering or downright grotesque.

It would need work, but the bones for a workable book musical of a manageable size are absolutely there and I have wanted to see that happen for YEARS.

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Mr. Wormwood
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joined:8/2/15
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I think older shows are more likely than Pocahontas which is probably too problematic. 

In addition to the already confirmed Hercules, I think we'll see Tangled and The Princess and the Frog at some point, at least for licensing if not for Broadway. Mulan JR is already out there for licensing. I think some twist on 101 Dalmatians perhaps more focused on Cruella could be interesting.

matt1982
Understudy
joined:2/3/12
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broadwayguy2 said: "There is already an existing stage version of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.

It debuted at the MUNY in St Louis, so in some ways, it is more of a pageant. It ultimately ended up being produced as a full stage production at Radio City Musical Hall in the late 1970s and is credited with single handedly saving the Music Hall from bankruptcy. It had a nice run and a return engagement and was actually filmed for TV broadcast. You can easily find it on YouTube, as well as an interesting documentary about it. Fair warning, the design elements are definitely 1970s, and the quality is definitely that of a limited run in a MASSIVE venue so the close ups are sometimes not flattering or downright grotesque.



It would need work, but the bones for a workable book musical of a manageable size are absolutely there and I have wanted to see that happen for YEARS."

I remember watching this as a kid on the Disney Channel in the mid 80's and I absolutely loved it!  I was so excited to find it on YouTube to rewatch it.  Yes, it's cheesy, but it brought back fun childhood memories.  This TV version was one of the things that hooked me on theatre.  

There have been so many adaptations of Snow White, some great, some not so much.  I think a new Disney musical version, combining the original animated film and some new elements could be fun.  

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JBroadway
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A lot of those older Disney movies feel very different in their structure from how films (and most commercial musicals) are made today, and I think that's partly why they aren't go-to source materials for adaptations. The only pre-Renaissance Disney film to become a Broadway hit was Mary Poppins, which was obviously live action - and even then they had to largely re-structure it. I think artistic sensibilities have changed a lot since then, and while we can still look back fondly on those Disney classics, and respect them for the brilliant technical achievements they were, I would argue that most of them don't necessarily hold up from a storytelling perspective.

Structurally, the Disney Renaissance films felt more streamlined, more well-paced, and more 3-dimensional, which I think is part of the reason they adapt well to a commercial musical theatre setting. And of course, Ashman and Menken came from a musical theatre background, and they employed those sensibilities when writing the scores (and when other people took over writing the songs, they seemed to be following in Ashman and Menken's footsteps). In many ways, the musical scores are the emotional cores to these films. As opposed to the older films, where the animation was more of the central draw. And so obviously, the ties to the musical theatre form help the newer films translate more intuitively. 

A large part of the success of the stage adaptions is that the songs carried sentimental value for the audience, while also carrying the emotional weight of the story. I'm just not sure the older films can quite say the same about their songs. Sure, we can name a lot of lovely, iconic songs from the older Disney films. But with few exceptions, those songs tend to be pretty pretty thin and generic from a lyrics/storytelling standpoint - which isn't to say we shouldn't love them, just that they were written for a different purpose, in a different time. And while some may disagree with me, I would also argue that the songs from the older films just aren't as iconic as the Renaissance songs (again, with some exceptions). I'd say songs like "A Whole New World" and "Circle of Life" are part of the cultural zeitgeist more than "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "Once Upon a Dream." 

Mary Poppins is a perfect counter-example to this, because the songs are incredibly iconic, and the do carry a lot of the storytelling weight. Which is why, I think, it's the only pre-renaissance Disney film to be successfully adapted to a large-scale commercial musical setting. 

OhHiJohnny
Swing
joined:10/20/17
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Due to the existing stage properties, I highly doubt we’ll ever see Cinderella or Peter Pan expand past their Kids/ Jr titles.

Of their classic titles, Snow White probably has the most legs if Disney wanted to do another large scale spectacle musical.

The release of Moana Jr makes me think a full scale production isn’t far out of the question (as an educator, this property is just as loved by the kids as Frozen, if not more so).

I hope the National’s Pinocchio gets released for licensing some day.

Of their titles, though, the movie I’d most want to see adapted (either for licensing or professional) is Coco. The pre-existing score is excellent and the story even lends itself to further songs. Above all, just think of all of the predominately Latino/ Spanish schools that could put on a show that so lovingly celebrates their culture.

However, in a TRULY idealistic world, I wish Disney would seriously consider the Theatre for Young Audiences market as a more fertile ground for creating shows. The stories already fit an abbreviated 60-90 minute format, the titles alone would sell out runs, and there’s so many incredible TYA theaters that could do these stories justice with imagination to spare.




rattleNwoolypenguin
Leading Actor
joined:10/11/11
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Honestly the Disney older classic movies while beloved are not box office draws anymore. Also a lot of the songs in them don’t further the story and sort of just exist. They also couldn’t extend 2 hours plus in length

The Howard Ashman involvement of Disney turned movies into broadway shows.

I would see more likely how can they bring back Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid and top what they did visually.

Also I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to do Frozen 2 and have them run next to eachother to milk that property for all its goddamn worh
broadwayguy2
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joined:5/18/03
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Mary Poppins was largely re-structered because PL Travers was furious at the Disney film and VERY specific in her will about what could happen to the property.

SouthernCakes
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joined:7/29/19
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What happened with Pinocchio? Wasn’t it at the National with the same team as Harry Potter? Seems that alone should have insured its success. Did it get pans?
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CATSNYrevival
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Snow White is still at the top of my list. I'd really like to see it on Broadway with a new book and additional songs by Stiles and Drewe as they did for Mary Poppins. Not the Radio City Music Hall version. That was just the movie on stage with theme park costumes.

Updated On: 5/5/20 at 04:47 PM
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blaxx
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SouthernCakes said: "What happened with Pinocchio? Wasn’t it at the National with the same team as Harry Potter? Seems that alone should have insured its success. Did it get pans? "

It just wasn't a traditional approach that recent Disney musicals use. The puppets were played by humans and the humans were giant puppets. It was full of subtle, beautiful non-flashy moments.

I thought it was incredible, easily my favorite Disney to stage adaptation. Doubt it would work on Broadway without the accustomed silliness and flashiness that audiences expect.

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
JennH
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JBroadway said: "A lot of those older Disney movies feelvery different in their structure from how films (and most commercial musicals) are made today, and I think that's partly why they aren't go-to source materials for adaptations. The only pre-Renaissance Disney film to become a Broadway hit was Mary Poppins, which was obviously live action - and even then they had to largely re-structure it. I think artistic sensibilities have changed a lot since then, and while we can still look back fondly on those Disney classics, and respect them for the brilliant technical achievements they were,I would argue that most of them don't necessarily hold up from a storytelling perspective.

Structurally, the Disney Renaissance films felt more streamlined, more well-paced, and more 3-dimensional, which I think is part of the reason they adapt well to a commercial musical theatre setting. And of course, Ashman and Menken came from a musical theatre background, and they employed those sensibilities when writing the scores (and when other people took over writing the songs, they seemed to be following in Ashman and Menken's footsteps). In many ways, the musical scoresare the emotionalcores to these films. As opposed to the older films, where the animation was more of the central draw. And so obviously, the ties to the musical theatre form help the newer films translate more intuitively.

A large part of the success of the stage adaptions is that the songscarried sentimental value for the audience, while also carrying the emotional weight of the story.I'm just not sure the older films can quite say the same about their songs. Sure, we can name a lot of lovely, iconic songs from the older Disney films. But with few exceptions, those songs tend to be pretty pretty thin and generic from a lyrics/storytelling standpoint - which isn't to say we shouldn't love them, just that they were written for a different purpose, in a different time. And while some may disagree with me, I would also argue that the songs from the older films just aren't as iconic as the Renaissance songs (again, with some exceptions). I'd say songs like "A Whole New World" and"Circle of Life" are part of the cultural zeitgeist more than "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "Once Upona Dream."

Mary Poppins is a perfect counter-example to this, because the songs are incredibly iconic, and the do carry a lot of the storytelling weight. Which is why, I think, it's the only pre-renaissance Disney film to be successfully adapted to a large-scale commercial musical setting.
"

ALL THIS RIGHT HERE. The Golden Age classics are more "movies with songs" (great songs obviously), but not necessarily full blown musicals where the songs are part of the actual telling of the story. The classics are beloved for very good reason, but stage material they are not, for another set of reasons. We already have iconic musicals of Peter Pan and Cinderella so Disney doing their own would be too much. Disney doing their own Snow White...ummm, no one wants to see the problematic stories of sleeping princesses on stage. Again the movies are great on their own, and were mostly just retelling the famous fairy tale, but can you really see Disney's S.W. and/or S.B. on a stage even in a retooling to make these girls have their own agency? Just by being sleeping princesses makes it problematic for today. 

Menken himself has said he can't see how Pocahontas would transfer although he didn't say why. Apart from translating the film to stage story wise, which for some reason, I don't think would work (it would be too much like the old 90's shows at the Parks perhaps?), putting an already unhistoric film on the stage I think would be borderline offensive. I love the movie on it's own, but that's it. Yes I know we have plenty of these kinds of musicals already, Newsies being one, but somehow that works of it's own accord...I still don't know why. 

rattleNwoolypenguin
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Pocahontas is such a valiant effort and an offensive mistake at the same time.

It is such a product of 90s level wokeness and like I said they try but top to bottom it is completely Ill conceived.

It will never ever ever ever be a broadway show. At least not the Disney movie
fosterfan2
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joined:8/7/11
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JennH said: "JBroadway said: "A lot of those older Disney movies feelvery different in their structure from how films (and most commercial musicals) are made today, and I think that's partly why they aren't go-to source materials for adaptations. The only pre-Renaissance Disney film to become a Broadway hit was Mary Poppins, which was obviously live action - and even then they had to largely re-structure it. I think artistic sensibilities have changed a lot since then, and while we can still look back fondly on those Disney classics, and respect them for the brilliant technical achievements they were,I would argue that most of them don't necessarily hold up from a storytelling perspective.

Structurally, the Disney Renaissance films felt more streamlined, more well-paced, and more 3-dimensional, which I think is part of the reason they adapt well to a commercial musical theatre setting. And of course, Ashman and Menken came from a musical theatre background, and they employed those sensibilities when writing the scores (and when other people took over writing the songs, they seemed to be following in Ashman and Menken's footsteps). In many ways, the musical scoresare the emotionalcores to these films. As opposed to the older films, where the animation was more of the central draw. And so obviously, the ties to the musical theatre form help the newer films translate more intuitively.

A large part of the success of the stage adaptions is that the songscarried sentimental value for the audience, while also carrying the emotional weight of the story.I'm just not sure the older films can quite say the same about their songs. Sure, we can name a lot of lovely, iconic songs from the older Disney films. But with few exceptions, those songs tend to be pretty pretty thin and generic from a lyrics/storytelling standpoint - which isn't to say we shouldn't love them, just that they were written for a different purpose, in a different time. And while some may disagree with me, I would also argue that the songs from the older films just aren't as iconic as the Renaissance songs (again, with some exceptions). I'd say songs like "A Whole New World" and"Circle of Life" are part of the cultural zeitgeist more than "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "Once Upona Dream."

Mary Poppins is a perfect counter-example to this, because the songs are incredibly iconic, and the do carry a lot of the storytelling weight. Which is why, I think, it's the only pre-renaissance Disney film to be successfully adapted to a large-scale commercial musical setting.
"

ALL THIS RIGHT HERE. The Golden Age classics are more "movies with songs" (greatsongs obviously), but notnecessarily full blown musicals where thesongs are part of the actual telling of the story.Theclassics are beloved for verygood reason, but stage material they are not, for another set of reasons. We already have iconic musicals of Peter Pan and Cinderella so Disney doing their own would be too much.Disney doing their own Snow White...ummm, no one wants to seetheproblematic stories of sleeping princesses on stage. Again the movies are great on their own, and were mostly just retelling the famous fairy tale, but can you really see Disney's S.W. and/or S.B. on a stage even in a retooling to make these girls have their own agency? Just bybeing sleeping princesses makes it problematic for today.

Menken himself has said he can't see how Pocahontas would transfer although he didn't say why. Apart from translating thefilm to stage story wise,which for some reason, I don't think would work(it would be too much like the old 90's shows at theParks perhaps?), putting an already unhistoric film on the stage I think would be borderline offensive. I love the movie on it's own, but that's it.Yes I know we have plenty of these kinds of musicals already, Newsies being one, but somehow that works of it's own accord...I still don't know why.
"

^This. 100%.

Globefan
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I'd love Nightmare before Christmas 

BwayLB
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At least i am anxious to see how Hercules is put together for Broadway.
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JBroadway
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Globefan said: "I'd love Nightmare before Christmas"

That was made in the mid-90s, during the Disney Renaissance (though not technically a part of it).

 

But yes, I agree - I’d love to see it onstage. 

rattleNwoolypenguin
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JBroadway said: "Globefan said: "I'd love Nightmare before Christmas"

That was made in the mid-90s, during the Disney Renaissance (though not technically a part of it).



But yes, I agree - I’d love to see it onstage.
"

That could work as a seasonal show. It’s pretty short though and kinda all the better for it

JennH
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rattleNwoolypenguin said: "JBroadway said: "Globefan said: "I'd love Nightmare before Christmas"

That was made in the mid-90s, during the Disney Renaissance (though not technically a part of it).



But yes, I agree - I’d love to see it onstage.
"

That could work as a seasonal show. It’s pretty short though and kinda all the better for it
"

Seasonal is the word for this one. I think we all know this wouldn't work as a year round run for obvious reasons. But I still don't think it's..."Broadway". I've been saying for YEARS that it direly needs to be a seasonal show at a Disney Park running from mid September to early January. It just screams Park material, and I'm not saying that as a knock. I just can't see this in any NYC capacity. From what a friend told me some time ago, being a Park show was talked about but never green lit. Which is INSANE, like...how?? It's their own property now, it's not only a great 'artistic' idea but would make the Parks beaucoup bucks. It's a win for everyone. 

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JBroadway
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BwayLB said: "At least i am anxious to see how Hercules is put together for Broadway."

 

Hercules isn't going to Broadway

BwayLB
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I thought it was
Theatrefanboy1
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I hope it is. That’ll be two Disney shows that I have wanted to see on broadway pass over broadway. I had so hoped hunchback would
bwayobsessed
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Can Disney Classics make Hits on Broadway #23
Posted: 5/7/20 at 10:17am
A) I think Hunchback will be a hit whenever they decide to stop being silly and give it a chance

B) I think Pocahontas could be a really interesting celebration of Native American culture if they got Native American groups to be the ones creating it.

C) I think the thing with the classic movies specifically like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White is that the central focus is neither on the titular princess nor the prince. Both Prince and Princess are kinda boring in both. The interesting with sleeping beauty is whether Flora, Fauna and Merrywether can put magic Maleficent. And similarly Snow White is the dwarves and the Queen. That being said I’d be very interested to see a stage version of specifically Sleeping Beauty with a very creative production team. It would require more reworking than say Beauty and the Beast but I think it could be rather beautiful.
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JBroadway
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Can Disney Classics make Hits on Broadway #24
Posted: 5/7/20 at 10:22am

BwayLB said: "I thought it was
"

Nope. There was never any intention for them to move it to Broadway. Last we heard, they were planning to move the property straight to licensing and skip Broadway. 

https://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/alan-menken-reveals-continued-development-hercules_90807.html

Updated On: 5/7/20 at 10:22 AM
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KJ4
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Can Disney Classics make Hits on Broadway #25
Posted: 5/7/20 at 12:29pm
Not a classic.

Disney need to learn produce a good modern spinoff. It s just that some big guys rarely read the comments of those on internet of what is popular out there, what s it that people yarn for.

Would be fantastic to see Cassandra or Varian the musical.