Ah, Disney Theatrical Productions. Sometimes they produce marvels, sometimes forgettable shadows of the animated movies they are adapted from. At first, you might think: how can you mess with such a classic film, beloved by generations of children?
But then, look to The Lion King, a fantastic film that, when made into a live musical, transcended the limits of the form to create something innovative and new. The instant success is still selling out on Broadway after 18 years, and has toured all over the world. The other animated Disney movie musicals that have made it to Broadway include Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid and most recently, Aladdin.
So what’s up next for the Broadway minds at Disney? An adaptation of The Jungle Book has seen regional productions in Chicago and Boston, and rumors are flying about their newest project–who else?–Frozen. (Sadly, the upcoming Alice in Wonderland musical will be based off of the 2010 Tim Burton live-action film rather than the original animation.
But that got us thinking…what should the next animated Disney movie to be made into a Broadway musical be? Looking back at an extensive film repertoire, it’s hard to believe princess tales like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty haven’t been made yet. But we’ve got a few favorites in mind. Without further ado, here are our pics:
5. 101 Dalmatians
Though technically not a movie musical in its original form, classic tune “Cruella de Vil” is so catchy and well-known we had to include it on our list. Based on the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith, this film is the story of a pair of dalmatians who bring their owners together to fall in love, only to have their puppies stolen by an evil woman who wants to make them into a fur coat. It has already seen a wide variety of sequels and adaptations, including two live-action films, a TV series and even a stage musical based on the novel and sponsored by dog food brand Purina. But we think Disney would provide a fantastic touch to bring this charming story to life.
4. Lady and the Tramp
Based on Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog by Ward Greene, Lady and the Tramp tells the story of a female cocker spaniel named Lady who lives with a refined, upper-middle-class family, and a male stray mutt named Tramp. When the two dogs meet, they embark on many romantic adventures. And who can forget the classic spaghetti dinner moment, those skin-crawling Siamese cats and the surprisingly overt morning-after scene? Already featuring a wide range of catchy songs, and no adaptations beyond a sequel to its name, Lady and the Tramp is perfectly poised for a Broadway adventure.
Featuring an extraordinary gospel choir in a modern adaptation of the Greek chorus and a delightfully gross set of Fates who share a single eyeball among the three of them, this 1997 animated Disney film creates something both lighthearted and clever out of the collection of ancient Greek and Roman legends. Disney’s Hercules is an innocent young farm boy who doesn’t know his strength who soon becomes a celebrity, but must give it all away to save a mysterious woman who has sold her soul to Hades. The eclectic mix of musical genres and deliberate anachronisms reveal a story unafraid to make fun of itself, and could easily be the next big soul musical on the Great White Way.
What true musical lover hasn’t belted out “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” whenever the occasion presented itself, in public or not? You may have heard that Disney is planning on producing a live-action film adaptation of Mulan, but we think this strong and complex young woman has what it takes to take on Broadway as well. The original 1998 film follows a young woman who disguises herself as a man so she can take her father’s place in the army and go to war. With the help of her trusty dragon sidekick Mushu, she becomes a skilled warrior and, eventually, one of the country’s greatest heroines. For any young girl who longs to find her place in the world and to keep up with the boys, no matter how often they tell her no, Mulan is a joy and an inspiration.
1. The Aristocats
The Aristocats is a considered, respectful, engaging love story about a single mother who meets and falls for a charming stranger from the other side of the tracks despite always putting her children first…it just also happens to be about talking cats. The 1970 film is based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe, and revolves around a family of pampered cats, and how an alley cat acquaintance helps them after the butler kidnaps them to gain his mistress’ fortune. This last film project to be approved by Walt Disney himself, the movie features exciting characters, innovative jazz music and some thrilling pieces of animation work that we’re thrilled to see translated onto the stage.
Do you have a different pick for the next Disney Broadway musical? Let us know!