I love Disney. I know that by your mid-twenties, a lot of people expect you to grow out of it, but I can’t help it. There’s something about Disney films that takes me back to a simpler place and time, and those guys sure know how to tell a story that tugs at your heart strings.
Having grown up on the films, I was thrilled to find out in my teens that some of my favorites had been adapted as stage musicals. Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King had been huge successes on Broadway, and since then, Mary Poppins, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, and Newsies have had their share of success on the Great White Way. And now, fulfilling the dream of many (including me), Aladdin will premiere at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014.
One can’t help but wonder what the next Disney musical will be. Though I can’t say what the future will hold, I can think of a few Disney stories that have some serious stage potential.
1. Pocahontas – This one is a no-brainer. I would be excited to hear the classic songs “Just Around the Riverbend,” “Steady as the Beating Drum,” and “Colors of the Wind,” performed live along with seeing the gorgeous forest and oceanside landscapes brought to life onstage.
2. The Sword in the Stone – It’s always interesting to see how magic is translated from animation into live performance. I can just see the use of projection and puppetry, a la The Lion King, to recreate the scenes where Merlin transfigures himself and Arthur into different animals, as well as the epic battle between him and Mad Madam Mim.
3. Tangled – One of Disney’s newer princesses, Rapunzel definitely appeals to young girls, and that translates to family trips to the theatre. And this story wouldn’t be too hard to perform live. A looming tower, some luminous lanterns, and a chorus of hilarious ruffians. Maybe they could even get Mandy Moore, Broadway favorite Donna Murphy, and Zachary Levi (now making his Broadway debut in First Date) to reprise their roles…
4. Hercules – A story of Olympian proportions, Hercules has a little something for everybody: a coming-of-age story, a little romance, a very distinct artistic style that would look amazing on stage, and a catchy, gospel-infused score–“Go the Distance,” “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,” “The Gospel Truth,” and “One Last Hope” are some of my favorite Disney songs ever.
5. Alice in Wonderland – Disney does have a junior version of Alice in Wonderland for licensing to school and community theatre groups, but this film has serious Broadway potential. What better escape from reality than Wonderland? And we could use a decent Alice story on Broadway following Frank Wildhorn‘s failed Wonderland, a modern, parallel story loosely based on the Lewis Carroll material.
6. Enchanted – For everyone who wishes princess Giselle had actually appeared in New York City to fill our lives with magic, Enchanted on Broadway would be a dream come true. It seems fitting that the film that showed how animated fairy tales would translate into the real world should be the next real, live Disney Broadway smash.
7. Pirates of the Caribbean – This franchise is huge and has the potential to bring a male demographic to the theatre. More modern than The Pirates of Penzance, more accessible than The Pirate Queen, and carrying huge name recognition, it could definitely be successful. I’m picturing a big, drunken pirate production number, the love story between Elizabeth and Will, and a great character role in Captain Jack Sparrow.
8. Finding Nemo – Ever since I saw the Finding Nemo musical in Disney World, I have been thinking about how they could beef it up for Broadway. Take the puppetry of The Lion King, the undersea wonder of The Little Mermaid, and get someone really good to write a full score, and Nemo is a guaranteed musical success.
9. Meet the Robinsons – I have always thought that Annie was a little dated; this orphan story is much fresher. Time travel, crazy inventions, a surreal world full of dinosaurs, robots, and one oddly functional family. The futuristic world would surely be any set designer’s (and audience member’s) dream.