OpinionStage

10 Disney Movies That Should Be Brought to Broadway

Amanda Doughty / Emertainment Monthly Books Editor

In 1994, Disney went where they had never gone before: Broadway. Bringing their classic film Beauty and the Beast to the stage, they were met with insane box office success and the start of a phenomenon. Now, despite a few flops like The Little Mermaid and Tarzan, Broadway adaptations of Disney films have had incredible success. Mary Poppins is about to end a very successful  seven-year run, and The Lion King is currently the highest-grossing musical in Broadway history. With the opening of an Aladdin adaptation looming just around the corner (spring of 2014!), Emertainment Monthly thought it would be a good idea to make some suggestions as to what Disney should bring to Broadway next.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Still from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. © 1996 - Walt Disney Studios.
Still from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. © 1996 – Walt Disney Studios.

One of the more controversial Disney films due to its dark plotline and twisted characters, this could be a difficult one to market. However, the music is too beautiful to resist – from the upbeat “Topsy-Turvy” to the heartbreaking “God Help the Outcasts.” Its large choral songs would require a large cast, which could lead to incredible group numbers throughout the musical. Recreating the deformities of Quasimodo would be a challenge, and the film doesn’t leave a lot of space for new music, but this could be an incredible chance to revive a beautiful story that has fallen by the wayside over the past few years. This film deserves more credit than its been given, and adapting it into a musical could give it a chance to gain that recognition.

Pocahontas

Still from Pocahontas. Photo Courtesy of © 1995 - Walt Disney Studios.
Still from Pocahontas. Photo Courtesy of © 1995 – Walt Disney Studios.

Arguably Disney’s most “artsy” film in terms of animation, this film leaves some opportunities for some beautiful sets and lighting. “Colors of the Wind” could easily become a visual masterpiece on a Broadway stage. And, aside from the talking tree, there wouldn’t really be any major challenges in bringing this to the stage. Plus, the music is absolutely stunning, and the film leaves plenty of scenes where more great music could be added. Rumors have been swirling about bringing this to Broadway for years, and we for one hope that these rumors are true.

 Mulan

Still from Mulan. Photo Courtesy of © 1998 - Walt Disney Studios.
Still from Mulan. Photo Courtesy of © 1998 – Walt Disney Studios.

This film begs to be adapted into a Broadway musical. “I’ll Make a Man out of You” is a show-stopping number already, with killer choreography to boot. The biggest challenge in adapting this one would be re-creating Mushu, the small dragon who is a catalyst for majority of the film. The production team would probably have to make him a puppet, which they have done before in their adaptation of The Lion King. If they could find a way to pull that off, the popularity of the original film could guarantee the musical’s success.

Tangled

Still from Tangled. Photo Courtesy of © 2010 - Walt Disney Pictures.
Still from Tangled. Photo Courtesy of © 2010 – Walt Disney Pictures.

This film features some of Disney’s most fascinating characters, perfect for a transfer to the stage. Plus, the music is absolutely beautiful, and many of the songs could become stellar production numbers. In addition, recreating the famous lantern scene could be absolutely stunning if lit correctly. Obviously, the biggest challenge of adapting this would be Rapunzel’s hair. In the film, it’s said to be about seventy feet long, and Rapunzel drags it with her throughout the entire film. It’s also a huge part of the action in this film, as it often gets them out of sticky situations in the more action-packed scenes. This would be quite the obstacle, but – especially with the film being so current – this production could be a huge success with the right execution.

 The Princess and the Frog

Still from The Princess and the Frog. Photo Courtesy of © 2009 - Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Still from The Princess and the Frog. Photo Courtesy of © 2009 – Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Theoretically, this would be incredibly hard to adapt into a musical. There are multiple difficult transformation scenes, as well as creepy voodoo scenes that could be hard to recreate on a stage. However, Disney has already tackled transformation scenes in Beauty and the Beast and the incredibly jazzy music that makes this film stand out from other Disney films could lead to some interesting choreography and arrangements. If this production could get the right cast and overcome the difficult transformation sequences, this could be a beautiful musical.

Hercules

Still from Hercules. Photo by Walt Disney Pictures – © 1997.
Still from Hercules. Photo by Walt Disney Pictures – © 1997.

A fan favorite, this film features some of the best music of any Disney film. The music is upbeat, catchy, and sticks with you (“Zero to Hero”? Everyone jams to that at some point). The challenge of this one would be the set: the ancient Greek city, the Underworld, and Mount Olympus are all very elaborate – and very different – sets. Individually, these would all be difficult to recreate, but trying to do them all together would be an incredible feat. If they could pull this off, it could be an instant classic. The music is too good for it not to be.

Tarzan

Still from Tarzan. Photo Courtesy of © 1999 - Walt Disney Studios.
Still from Tarzan. Photo Courtesy of © 1999 – Walt Disney Studios.

Yes, this is already a musical. But someone should go back and give it a second chance. With the original music from the film being as good as it is, and the storyline being so beautiful, this had so much potential to be great, and it just wasn’t. Someone needs to go back and fix that.

Robin Hood

Still from Robin Hood. Photo Courtesy of © 1973 - Walt Disney Studios.
Still from Robin Hood. Photo Courtesy of © 1973 – Walt Disney Studios.

The music in this film greatly differs from any other Disney films. While other films feature upbeat tunes that are basically tailor-made for Broadway musicals, the music in this film is more folk-based. However, the success of the Broadway adaptation of Once (which won the Tony award for Best Musical) proves that a musical with folk music could still have incredible success. Sure, having all the cast members dressed as foxes and bears and rabbits might pose as a bit of an issue, but Disney Theatrical Group is known for its incredible costuming. Bringing this to Broadway would definitely be a risk, but it could be a risk worth taking.

Oliver and Company

Still from Oliver & Company. Photo Courtesy of Photo by Walt Disney Feature Animation - © 1988.
Still from Oliver & Company. Photo Courtesy of Photo by Walt Disney Feature Animation – © 1988.

Featuring the music of Billy Joel, the music in this film is obviously some of the best. “Why Should I Worry?” is an absolute jam, and “Once Upon a Time in New York City” would make for a great musical opening number. The biggest challenge of this one would be that the cast is almost entirely animals, and the human characters have to appear larger than the animal characters. Plus, there would have to be quite a few children in the cast (including the two main characters), and that can be a risk. However, musicals with children in it, as shown by the success of Annie’s Broadway revival and the success of Matilda, can draw a huge crowd. And, with proper costuming, the animal factor may not be a problem at all. It certainly wouldn’t be easy, but it could make for a great musical.

Frozen

Hans and Anna in Frozen. Photo Credit: ©2013 Disney.
Hans and Anna in Frozen. Photo Credit: ©2013 Disney.

Disney’s newest animated classic has huge potential to become an incredible Broadway musical. It’s chock full of incredible songs, particularly “Let it Go” and is set in a world that could make for a beautiful, Broadway set. Yes, the giant snow monster could pose a problem, as could the complicated scene where Anna gets frozen, but overall this could be fantastic to see on a stage. A majority of the cast is Broadway veterans, and it would be quite the treat to see all these musical theatre titans on one stage.

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9 Comments

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  2. They should bring Tarzan back to B’way for sure and use the streamlined version they use here in Germany, which is a huge hit. They trimmed down the plot and added more acrobatics. The stage also almost wraps around the lower orchestra, so more areal tricks happen directly above the audience. Come over to Stuttgart to see the Tarzan production. :-)

    Frozen’s already had its Broadway go-signal, though they’re not in a rush to do it since they want it perfect.

    Also, there was a very good production of Hunchback in Germany too- with some pretty awesome staging.

    Tarzan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTBO5nBoCXg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PZdaVKMJcI

    Glöckner (Hunchback)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpZroZOjj3w

  3. I would love to see Frozen, Tangled, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, and Hercules on broadway. I love all those films and I believe would make specular shows. I would go to all of them as would many other people.

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