The exact figure for the budget is unknown — Disney is traditionally reluctant to divulge such figures — but the Reuters news agency puts the advance at nearly $20 million, and industry insiders are privately saying that figure seems accurate.
The reviews in the British newspapers have mostly been raves. The London Evening Standard said, “I never thought in my wildest fantasies that Walt Disney’s syrupy mountain of a film that has melted the hearts and softened the faculties of millions of children could be worked up into such a sharp, thoughtful musical.” It hailed Laura Michelle Kelly, the production’s lead — seen in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of My Fair Lady and in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway — as “a new star.”
Most other papers agreed. Minor notes were sounded only by the Guardian, who fund that the evening took a long time to take flight, and the Financial Times which was a touch lukewarm. The Sunday papers have yet to come, but the show has already been hailed as a major success for its producers, Disney’s Thomas Schumacher and Mackintosh.
In a press interview Kelly recently declared her next goal to be “movies, definitely” However, as Mackintosh has a track record of taking his shows’ stars to New York (Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle in Les Misérables, Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon and Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in The Phantom of the Opera), it seems all but certain that Kelly will be asked to lead the show on Broadway.
The show is running at London’s Prince Edward Theatre. Tickets are reportedly not easily available for shows before March 2005. For more information call (0)870 850 9191.