Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora

An amusing new Disney show for the whole family.

By: Mar. 25, 2024
Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Disney's latest stage-to-screen adaptation celebrates its World Premiere at the Stage Theatre Neue Flora in Hamburg, the often-called Broadway of the North.

It is a promising area for Disney shows, with the long reign of THE LION KING in the famous yellow tent in Hamburg harbor, FROZEN as its neighbor; the city has been home to TARZAN, MARRY POPPINS, and ALADDIN, some might say, Disney's favorite city in Germany. HERCULES is the next in line to amaze audiences in Germany's most beautiful and entertaining city and marks the first Disney World Premier for Hamburg, an actual Hercules task.

In 1997, Disney released its version of the Greek Hero, with Music by EGOT Winner Alan Menken. With enchanting melodies mixed with powerful Gospel songs, Hercules found its place in the Disney Olymp. 

Now, it is time to conquer the Musical universe. Hercules has always been around; creatives have been talking about bringing it to the stage someday, sooner or later, and finally, the stage version has arrived after a few earlier attempts.

Expectations are high because Disney shows are well-known for magical moments and unforgettable theatre experiences on-stage. Adapting something like a favorite Disney movie for the stage is like a knife-edge ride. Audiences expect to experience something unseen but still as close as possible to the original one. We want to get enchanted by familiar songs and new catchy tunes; we want the whole Disney package.

Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora
The Cast of Disney's HERCULES ©Johann Persson Disney/Stage Entertainment

How to solve a Problem like Hercules

HERCULES, played by the wonderful Benét Monteiro, was kidnapped by his uncle Hades (a funnily evil Detlef Leistenschneider doomed to wear a disastrous lookalike shock-headed Peter/Cruella De Vil mixed wig, which luckily got changed into something more Hades-suitable in Act 2) and banned from the Olymp because he is now mortal. 

Like all of us, Herc needs to find his place in the universe, but only by solving his problems and overcoming barriers to find his belonging. (Spoiler Alert- he belongs to Meg)

The stage adaptation is only loosely based on the beloved Movie, which is also loosely based on the Greek Myth. Of course, there are well-known characters from the film, but not all have made it to the stage version. Sorry, Pegasus. Some got slightly rewritten, like Hades Henchmen, Pain, and Panic, now called Karl and Heinz. Apart from the cheap name pun ( Karl-Heinz is a common name in the German-speaking area), Mario Saccoccio (Karl) and André Haedicke (Heinz) are charming, loveable partners in crime, ready to steal the audience's hearts and laughs.

The show's title might be masculine, but the real heroes are the women in the Musical. 

Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora
Benét Monteiro (Hercules) and The Muses ©Johann Persson Disney/Stage Entertainment

The goddesses of arts and proclaimers of heroes, aka the Muses, Leslie Beehann (Calliope), Chasity Crisp (Thalia), Venolia Manale (Terpsichore), UZOH (Clio), and Shekina McFarlane (Melpomene), not only the Narrators but also the show's powerful engine, are taking us by the hand and leading us through this bumpy road-structured story.

They fill the colossal auditorium with positive energy you can't and won't escape—concentrated Woman power at its best.

Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora
Meg (Mae Ann Jorolan) and the Muses

Another substantial strong woman is Megara, played by the great Mae Ann Jorolan. (click here to watch her perform, Nein, ich bin nicht verliebt) Her character develops differently from the movie version; she is more accurate and forward, and it's easy to understand why Hercules falls in love with her. While Meg conquers your heart with a whimper, falling in love with the show generally is tricky.

There are amazing actors on stage and some lovely songs with clever new lyrics ("Endlich Angekommen"/ I Can Go The Distance). It has loose ends, but you will get some on-stage magic. But in the end, it is a Greek tragedy: whenever you fall for something or someone, it does not get under your skin; it keeps you safe and sound on a surface level only.

Director Casey Nicholaw created a powerful, family-friendly show with energetic dance moves framed by a massive set design. HERCULES is an eye-catcher and fits perfectly into the Neue Flora.

Review: Disney's HERCULES at Stage Theatre Neue Flora
Benét Monteiro is taking his World Premiere Bow

Disney's HERCULES, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, with book by Kwame-Kwei-Armah and Robert Horn, Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by David Zippel, Co-Choreography by Tanisha Scott with Benét Monteiro as Hercules, Mae Ann Jorolan as Meg, Kristofer Weinstein-Storey as Phil, Detlef Leistenschneider as Hades, Mario Saccoccio as Karl, André Haedicke as Heinz and Leslie Beehann, Chasity Crisp, Venolia Manale, Uzoh, and Shekina McFarlane as the Muses.


To post a comment, you must register and login.

Vote Sponsor