Disney Films that have been turned into Musicals
The Lion King is one of the greatest Broadway and West End success stories, having performed to audiences since the late 1990s continually and opening in cities throughout the world such as Tokyo and Mexico City. The success of the film enabled the Broadway musical to be created and open just three years afterwards, and today it has been seen by over 45 million people worldwide with 6.5 million of these seeing the show at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Due to its phenomenal success, other Disney films have also been turned into musicals for the stage, but which ones?
Other Disney films turned into musicals
The very first Disney film to be adapted for the stage was Beauty and the Beast. The classic fairy tale is one of Disney’s most successful films, and was the first ever animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Due to the film’s success and the love of the characters that the public had, it was swiftly adapted into a stage production in 1994, just three years after the film’s release in 1991. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast played for 13 years on Broadway and closed in 2007, becoming the New York Theatreland’s eight longest-running show ever. The show opened at the West End in 1997 but had less longevity, running for just over 2 and a half years. It played at the Dominion Theatre, now home to We Will Rock You, and won the coveted Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1998. Beauty and the Beast continues to play in cities throughout the world and had its first Mexican tour in 2011.
Mary Poppins opened at the West End in 2004 at the Prince Edward Theatre, now home to Jersey Boys. The story was adapted by producer Cameron Mackintosh and had Laura Michelle Kelly as the leading lady, who went in to win the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. The show was visited in 2005 by Julie Andrews, who played Mary Poppins herself in the classic film version. She gave a speech which praised the cast for their novel interpretation of the story. Mary Poppins was a success but closed in 2008 after a run of over three years. It then went to play on Broadway and in cities in Europe and Australia, with a production in Brisbane set to start in early 2012.
Tarzan: The Musical was the next Disney film to be reformed into a stage musical, beginning previews on Broadway in 2006. The show featured Glee star Matthew Morrison in the title role but unfortunately closed just over a year after opening due to poor ticket sales. Since its closure, productions of Tarzan: The Musical have been played in cities in the United States such as Utah and San Jose, and also in places such as Kristianstad, Sweden and Hamburg, Germany, where the musical is still open. Tarzan was never brought to London’s West End.
The most recent Disney film that has been transformed into a musical stage production is The Little Mermaid. Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the story of a mermaid longing to live on land with a prince was loved by all when it was first seen in the 1989 movie version, and so a musical stage version was suggested. Opening on Broadway in January 2008, The Little Mermaid replaced Beauty and the Beast as Disney felt that having two Princess icons on at the same time would cause competition between the two shows. The title role was created by Sierra Boggess who also created the role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. The Little Mermaid was met with mild success and closed in August 2009, a year and a half after the show opened, and the show went on a US tour in 2011 with international productions staged in Israel and the Philippines. The Little Mermaid has not been brought to the West End.
The classic and timeless Disney films that were turned into stage musicals have all seen success, but not success like The Lion King. Have you seen any of these productions? Do you think they live up to the standard of The Lion King or do you think that they should be left alone as movies and not touched by stage producers? Write your comments in the box below!