Disney Theatricals—which is currently represented on Broadway by three hit productions: Beauty and the Beast (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre), Aida (Palace Theatre) and The Lion King (New Amsterdam Theatre)—is currently preparing several other theatrical projects.
First up is a workshop of a new musical with the working title When You Wish. A celebration of Disney songs — featuring tunes mainly from Disney films with a few from their stage productions — the musical is being conceived and directed by Tina Landau, who helmed the Broadway revival of Bells Are Ringing. As previously reported, the May 13 through June 15 workshop boasts a 20 member cast led by Faith Prince, Douglas Sills and Julia Murney. Others who will be singing Disney favorites include Andrea Bowen, Patrick Collins Jr., Bradley Dean, Natascia Diaz with Tricia Paoluccio, Paige Price (Saturday Night Fever), Emily Hsu, Mandy Gonzalez, Jen Cody (Urinetown), Todd Anderson, Kelly Severson, Martin Moran (Bells Are Ringing), Derric Harris, Sebastian LaCause, Ben Schaeffer, T. Oliver Reid and Denton Tarver.
The creative team comprises Mark Dendy (choreography), Skip Mercier (sets), Constance Hoffmann (costumes) and Scott Zeilinski (lights). Paul Bogaev is the music producer, and some of the song titles in the workshop are "When You Wish Upon a Star," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "You'll Be My Heart" and "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo."
Although When You Wish is Disney's most immediate project, some of the others in the works are stage versions of The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Pinocchio and an original musical, Hoopz, loosely based on the famed basketball team, The Harlem Globetrotters.
The Little Mermaid, which is based on the 1989 animated hit film, will feature direction and choreography from Matthew Bourne, who received 1999 Tony Awards for Best Choreographer and Best Director for his production of Swan Lake. Bourne will collaborate with Lez Brotherston, who will design Mermaid's sets and costumes. Also in the works for Disney Theatricals is an unconventional staging of Tarzan, which, like the 1999 movie, will feature songs by Grammy winner Phil Collins. The entire production is being conceived and designed by Bob Crowley, the costume/set designer who nabbed Tonys for his work on Aida and Carousel. Tarzan, a spokesman explained, will be performed in "a non-traditional venue because there will be things happening in the air and on the ground, so you won't be able to stage it in a regular Broadway house." Modern dance choreographer Meryl Tankard is also connected with the project.
Discussions continue as well for a stage version of "Mary Poppins," the Disney film that made a star out of Julie Andrews. The project would likely be a joint venture between Disney Theatricals and producer Cameron Mackintosh, who has a previous agreement with P.L. Travers, author of the beloved Mary Poppins book.
Other projects previously reported on include Julie (The Lion King) Taymor's vision of Pinocchio and an original project Hoopz, which will feature a book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog author, Suzan Lori-Parks; direction by Marion McClinton; and a score by Jeanine Tesori of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Violet fame.