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Disney’s Musicals on Broadway

Creating and Filling a New Niche in New York Theater


Beginning with The Lion King in 1997, Disney's magic touch for family fare was felt on Broadway, and the success continues with The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins. Disney shows on Broadway have ranged from the company’s animated films brought to life to co-productions, to original works. Disney has shown itself willing to take artistic chances and has garnered respect as a result.

1. The Lion King

The Lion King Disney Broadway New YorkPhoto by Joan Marcus

Roaring Success: The movie The Lion King was already a billion dollar success with its touching boy-becomes-man story of Simba the lion cub. Plus it had Elton John music and Tim Rice lyrics.

Then in 1995, Disney rehabbed the New Amsterdam Theatre with the promise from then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that the Times Square area would be rehabbed as well when the show opened two years later.

Rudy delivered and so did Disney. The Lion King was re-imagined for the stage as a folk tale told with puppets, masks, music and dance. It was “Disney magic” at its best and a Tony Best Musical that continues to sell out.
Well Known Songs: “Circle of Life” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”
Discounts Available?: No. So plan in advance.

2. The Little Mermaid

Photo by Joan Marcus

Making Waves: The Little Mermaid - a girl-becomes-woman story -did not have as easy a transition from screen to stage as The Lion King. Critics weren’t unkind, just mostly unimpressed. But there is another set of critics - called audience members - who give it raves.

Even people I know who go to see it with low expectations come away with the same reactions, they are impressed, they are moved and they love that music. This is some of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s best.
Well Known Songs: “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
Discounts Available?: Yes. You can save about 45 percent off the face value of orchestra tickets online.

3. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins, musical, Broadway, DisneyPhoto by Paul Cozby

A Spoonful of Dancing: Mary Poppins is Disney’s only co-production on Broadway, produced with Cameron (Les Mis) Mackintosh. As with other Disney shows on Broadway now, it includes the song book from the movie and adds to it. But Mary also expands the story line concerning the relationship of the Mr. Banks with his children giving the show an added depth.

I’m a sucker for good, old-fashioned Broadway “dancin’,” and this show delivers it. And, of course, you expect a flying Mary in Mary Poppins and Disney delivers that as well. As with Mermaid, critics didn’t love it, but audiences seem to.
Well Known Songs: “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Step in Time,” “S-U-P-E-R-(and you know the rest)”
Discounts Available?: Yes, save about 45 percent online.

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