Thomas Schumacher was recently promoted to the post of president of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Theatrical Productions. Along with new Disney Studios president Peter Schneider, Schumacher oversaw the development of the phenomenally successful The Lion King.
Schumacher and Schneider will continue to work together on Aida and other stage projects as co-presidents of Disney Theatricals.
In other Disney news:
While the exact future of Disney's new musical, Aida, remains in question, the show's score will soon find its place in record stores. An all-star album, titled "Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida" will be released Mar. 23, 1999 on Rocket/Island Records.
Among the pop stars who have recorded the musical's 14 numbers are Sting, James Taylor, the Spice Girls, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, LeAnn Rimes and John himself. John and Rimes performed the Aida song "Written in the Stars" Jan. 10 on "The 25th Annual People's Choice Awards." The duet appears on the album and will be released as a single in the coming weeks. As for the stage version of Aida -- as the musical is now called, shortened from the original title, Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida -- all accounts point toward a second national engagement happening at the Palace Theatre in Chicago sometime in fall 1999.
Aida had a rocky debut at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Oct. 7, 1998, suffering mixed reviews and technical problems concerning its central set piece, a large pyramid. Following the play's Atlanta run, Disney dismissed the creative team, which included director Robert Jess Roth and set designer Stanley A. Meyer, replacing them with Robert Falls and Bob Crowley, respectively, as well as choreographer Wayne Cilento.
Both Roth and Meyer were veterans of the Beauty and the Beast . With the hiring of Falls and Crowley -- both highly respected artists -- Disney seems to be moving away from the family spectacle of Beauty in favor of the more successful, high-art formula of Julie Taymor's The Lion King.
Falls is a somewhat odd choice for the job, since he is not known for his work with musicals. Rather, he has made his reputation with grandly rethought stagings of classics such as Hamlet , Galileo , The Iceman Cometh , and the recent Death of a Salesman, which is due in New York this spring. Recently, he has mounted productions of new works, such as Horton Foote's The Young Man from Atlanta and Eric Bogosian's subUrbia.
Crowley, meanwhile, has been highly praised for the work in the musical theatre, which includes the designs for Carousel and The Capeman. Cilento is best known for his choreography of Tommy.
An official announcement about an upcoming production of Aida is expected in the next few weeks. No cast for such a production has been mentioned, though the inclusion of the Atlanta leads, Heather Headley and Sherie Scott, on the Aida album would seem to indicate their continued involvement.
The track listing for "Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida" is as follows:
"Another Pyramid," Sting
"How I Know You," James Taylor
"Written in the Stars," Elton John and LeAnn Rimes
"Enchantment Passing Through," Dru Hill
"My Strongest Suit," Spice Girls
"Easy as Life," Tina Turner
"I Know the Truth," Elton John and Janet Jackson
"Amneris' Letter," Shania Twain
"Like Father Like Son," Lenny Kravitz
"Not Me," Boyz II Men
"Elaborate Lives," Elton John
"A Step too Far," Elton John, Heather Headley and Sherie Scott
"The Gods Love Nubia," Kelly Price
"The Messenger," Elton John and Lulu