From The Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, animated musicals are no stranger to the Broadway stage. Still, there are so many more we wish would make the transition. Which show would get your vote?
There seems to be an animated musical craze at the moment, as well as those shows that have already made it to the stage, there are possible adaptations in the works for Dumbo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book (plus Aladdin and Anastasia, but we’ll get to them a little later).
Why do we love these shows so much? Simple. We love their great characters, the slight twist they often put on well known fairy tales and the songs that get stuck in your head for days. And if you’re thinking “surely they’ll all be Disney” – don’t be alarmed. You won’t find only Disney on this list, or the work of Alan Menken. No, our animated musical love crosses all boundaries and genres.
We are so excited to hear that Aladdin will infact be landing on Broadway very soon! The adaptation of the animated musical has played in Seattle and St. Louis, and is expected to open in 2014 after renovations to the theatre. We are hoping that these renovations will help to cater for the inevitable (and preferably numerous) magic carpet scenes.
We are surprised it has taken this long for Aladdin to get there. With the opportunity for a huge cast, many dance numbers, fabulous costumes and of course the great characters, this is an animated masterpiece. Picture “Prince Ali” or “Friend Like Me” on stage, and you’ll see what we mean. And let’s not forget “A Whole New World”, the love song to end all love songs.
The Princess and the Frog
This brilliantly reworked fairytale would be perfect for the stage. Instead of the Princess changing the frog into a man, we have the Prince turning the Princess into a frog! Of course, this presents certain logistical problems for a live production. Yet the amazing work done by the teams behind The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Shrek The Musical give us hope.
After all, who doesn’t want to see a Louis Armstrong-inspire alligator playing the trumpet, or the evil witch doctor. We’re sure they could have a lot of fun bringing this show to life, and Randy Newman’s songs are just begging for it. From “Down in New Orleans” to “Dig A Little Deeper”, this is a Disney soundtrack that stands out from the rest, through its combination of gospel, blues and jazz. And well, we just love it.
Hercules is absolutely crying out to be a musical. While the lead characters in most musicals undergo the so called “hero journey,” here we have a real hero to go on a journey of his own. The songs and characters are readymade to hit the big stage – alongside our hero we have the sassy love interest and a literal Greek chorus of gospel divas. There isn’t a single downside to this show.
The songs themselves are the catchy and clever work of Alan Menken. They were written in classic Broadway stylings. The two big solo numbers “Go the Distance” and “I Won’t Say (I’m In Love)” provide shining moments for the two leads, “One Last Hope” is the comic relief, while the ensemble numbers sung by the Muses would sparkle to life on stage.
Oh Anastasia, the beautiful love story set against a background of Russian ‘history’. Again this is a perfect show to adapted, and it looks like it is well on the way. There’s the dream of secretly being a Princess for the little girls, the cool con-man for the boys, the love story for the romantics, and the (sort of) historical aspect (which they could amp up on stage) for anyone else dragged along.
There are some great songs in Anastasia, including “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon A December”, as well as the more upbeat “Paris Holds The Key (To Your Heart)” and “Rumor in St. Petersburg”, with plenty of room for additional songs to be added. “At The Beginning” would have to be added into the show itself, and both love-interest Dimitri and Anastasia’s grandmother the Dowager Empress deserve their own songs. There, all organized.
We’ll say this straight away, all of that long, blonde hair does present obvious issues for staging if they want to replicate the film. Similarly the adorable chameleon Pascal and the highly spirited horse Maximus would probably become lesser characters. Despite these difficulties, the story and the characters (girl, boy, crazy witch, magic hair) have the foundation for the really wonderful musical, and one we would love to see.
Tangled, more so than anything on this list, would need expanding. We think Menken probably has a few more songs in him, and the ones he has to start with are already great (who doesn’t love a good karaoke session to “I See The Light”? No, just us?). And if it was cast properly, we can see “Mother Knows Best” being the unexpected showstopper.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is a real universal story. You know, that classic tale of skeleton-man who tries to take over Christmas, kidnaps Santa, has his coffin-sleigh shot out of the sky, learns some life lessons and falls in love with rag-doll girl. If producers were going for off-beat or a bit weird, this would be the show to do it. Think of it as going after the Addams Family market.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has another thing up on the other musicals on this list. The soundtrack for the show is almost twice as long as most of these other shows, thus requiring less additional songs to be written to flesh it out. And despite the supernatural elements highlighted in the animation, most of the characters could the transported to the stage quite easily, giving us a fun and totally unique new Broadway show.