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Disney Musicals: Past, Present, and Future 
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Post Disney Musicals: Past, Present, and Future
Disney has been successful in their stage productions, so people are naturally curious as to which of their movies they'll turn into stage musicals in the future. I'd like to discuss the various Disney movie musicals (both live-action and animated). I will analyze which ones have already been put on stage, which ones might have potential to be put on stage, and which ones might not work so well on stage. After I give my thoughts on each musical, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: If this were to be a Broadway musical, someone would have to write some new songs that fit with the classic songs. I could more easily see this being done as a "Broadway Jr." show with the songs that are in the film and maybe including the two songs that were cut from the film. It shouldn't be too tricky to stage.

Pinocchio: This is another one that I could see as a "Broadway Jr." show more easily than a full Broadway production. Disney currently uses a couple of the songs from Pinocchio in their stage musical My Son Pinocchio, which is based on the TV movie Geppetto. (I personally think they screwed up the script and wish they had made it more like the TV movie.)

Dumbo: There was actually talk a few years ago about adapting Dumbo for the stage, but it sounds like they're not going forward with it. I personally can't picture it, especially when you consider the animals of various sizes. One could argue that they could get creative with costumes like they did with The Lion King, but that's a rare situation.

The various segmented Disney films of the 1940's: They wouldn't be that commercially appealing since they have multiple plots. They would feel more like revues than legitimate musicals.

Song of the South: A stage version would probably stir up too much controversy since the film gets many accusations of racism. I personally don't think that movie shows black people in a negative light, but not everyone sees it that way.

So Dear to My Heart: It's not really one of Disney's most popular movie musicals, so it's not very commercially appealing. They could always write new material to try and improve it, but marketing would certainly be an issue.

Cinderella: There is a "Disney Kids" version of Cinderella. I suppose they could always write some new songs to expand it for a full Broadway production, but it's doubtful that those new songs would be as classic as the original songs.

Alice in Wonderland:: There is a "Broadway Jr." version available for performing. It's not really one of the most acclaimed Disney classics, so they probably won't expand it for a Broadway production.

Peter Pan: A "Broadway Jr." version was recently released. If they tried to put it on Broadway, people would often confuse it with the classic Broadway musical Peter Pan that starred Mary Martin.

Lady and the Tramp: This is another one I can imagine a "Broadway Jr." version, but not a full Broadway production.

Sleeping Beauty: There is a "Broadway Kids" version. It's another one I personally don't see them expanding for Broadway.

101 Dalmatians: It's not really a musical, but there is a "Broadway Kids" version.

Babes in Toyland: This Disney movie musical was actually adapted from a stage operetta.

Summer Magic: It's not well-known enough to be successful. It also doesn't have enough songs.

The Sword in the Stone: They could do it as a "Broadway Jr." show, but I doubt many people would do it. It's one of the less popular animated features.

Mary Poppins: There is a stage version that was recently on Broadway. It was different enough from the movie that it divided fans. I would love to see a revival someday that follows the movie more closely, but that will probably never happen. The cartoon sequence would especially be hard to pull off on stage.

The Jungle Book: There is a "Broadway Kids" version. Disney is work-shopping a production that they're hoping to bring to Broadway. I heard that this production adds some newly written songs as well as a couple of songs that were cut from the movie. The Jungle Book has always been one of my favorites, so I hope this one lives up to its potential.

The Happiest Millionaire: This movie could easily transfer to the stage. It's not as well known as some of Disney's other musicals, so marketing for a show like this would be tricky. I think that the main reason the movie wasn't that popular is because the dialogue scenes lasted too long and caused it to drag. I think if they shorten the dialogue and keep the original Sherman Brothers songs, it could be a really good stage musical.

The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band: This is one of those lesser known movie musicals that is fun, but nothing special. I don't think that a stage version would be popular enough to be worth it.

The Aristocats: The "Broadway Kids" version is probably the most we'll get out of this one.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: This one would be hard to pull off on stage, but I have some specific ideas that might make it work. I will go over my specific ideas in great detail in a separate post. Keep an eye out for it.

Robin Hood: They could do a "Broadway Jr." version, but I doubt it would be one of the more popular choices.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: I think they could do a "Broadway Jr." version. There is a "Broadway Kids" show called Winnie the Pooh Kids, but that's based on the 2011 film. I doubt that any of the other "Pooh" movies would work as stage musicals.

Pete's Dragon: I don't think this musical would work on stage. They may have been able to do a dragon in Shrek the Musical, but it was only in a couple of scenes and was limited in what it could do. Elliot does a lot more throughout the movie including becoming invisible and reappearing occasionally. That's something that can't be done on stage. I also personally didn't find the movie as enjoyable as Disney's other movie musicals.

The Fox and the Hound: They could do a "Broadway Jr." version, but I doubt that many people would do it.

The Great Mouse Detective: This is one of the least acclaimed Disney cartoons. I doubt that anyone would want to adapt it for the stage.

Oliver and Company: I can see it as a "Broadway Jr." show, but it probably wouldn't be that popular.

The Little Mermaid: This has been a Broadway musical. The "Broadway Jr." version has become quite popular with young people.

Beauty and the Beast: It was one of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time.

Newsies: It's currently on Broadway and I think it's even better than the film.

Aladdin: This has had several stage incarnations. It's finally coming to Broadway this spring. I hope it will live up to its potential. Sadly, no stage production can do the genie's transformations that were in the film.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: This one would be very tricky to put on stage, particularly with the costumes. I don't know how they would do the climax with Oogie Boogie unraveling. If they get a very clever and creative costume designer (and a tall and extremely skinny actor to play Jack), it might work. I'm sure that Danny Elfman would be willing to write a couple more songs. The question is whether or not Tim Burton would be willing to let them do it.

The Lion King: It is one of the most innovative Broadway musicals of all time and is still running on Broadway.

A Goofy Movie: I personally can't picture it on stage.

Pocahontas: I'm sure it would work on stage, but I have doubts on how popular it would be considering that a number of people didn't care for the movie. It might have more success as a "Broadway Jr." show instead of a full Broadway production.

James and the Giant Peach: The story has been successful as a children's theater play. If Randy Newman expanded the score, I think it could work as a stage musical. Of course, not that many people like the movie quite as much as I do.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: It was adapted for the stage and played in Berlin for a while. They are currently work-shopping it in the hopes that they can bring it to Broadway. It may have the most mixed response of any Disney cartoon, but it's easy to stage, one appreciates it more with multiple viewings (at least in my opinion), and it has enough of a fan base that it would probably be a hit.

Hercules: Too many of the mythical elements (like the Titans) can't be done on stage in a way that would do them justice.

Mulan: There is a "Broadway Jr." version. If it's expanded and written right, I think it could work on Broadway.

Tarzan: The movie wasn't really a musical since the characters didn't do much of the singing, but has been adapted into Broadway musical. It had mixed response, but was relatively successful.

Home on the Range: See comments on The Great Mouse Detective.

High School Musical Trilogy: The first two were adapted for the stage, but I doubt they would adapt the 3rd one since the 2nd one wasn't that successful. Besides, the trilogy was pretty much a fad that has now passed.

Enchanted: They could do it, but the fairy tale world sequences wouldn't contrast as much since they won't be cartoons.

Hannah Montana: The Movie: Face it. Miley Cyrus and her public image have ruined Hannah Montana forever.

The Princess and the Frog: This one would be hard to do on stage. I suppose you could use body doubles for the transformation scenes. The Shadow Man is what would really make it hard. Maybe they could have people dressed all in black doing weird shadow things. If they want to try it, I'd like to see how it turns out.

Tangled: I don't see how they could do this one on stage. Not only would the hair get "tangled" backstage and/or on stage, but how are you supposed to make the hair glow when she sings? It would also be tricky to do Maximus the horse on stage.

The Muppets (or any other Muppet movie for that matter): They could do it, but it probably wouldn't be the same.

Frozen: They are currently planning a stage version. At first, I didn't think it would be possible when you consider Elsa's powers. Then I realized you could use a combination of animated projections, fog and snow machines, set pieces coming up from beneath the stage and down from the flies, creative costumes, certain events happening off stage, and eliminating some of the more cartoony ice tricks shown in the film. Now I think it has real potential.


Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:48 pm
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