The songwriter and his collaborator-wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez have written a handful of new songs for the new Disney animated feature, "Winnie the Pooh," to be released in theatres on July 15.
"It's this wonderful return to 2-D animation," Lopez told Playbill.com. "They asked us to bring Winnie the Pooh back to the Sherman Brothers [style of songwriting] — that tone, those kind of songs. That was an amazing journey that we just went on. I can't wait. It's called 'Winnie the Pooh,' they're relaunching it all again; it's not a remake of anything. It's a brand new story."
Lopez — a Tony Award winner for co-writing the songs to Avenue Q — said that the Sherman Brothers' title song (from past "Winnie the Pooh" films and TV shows) is in the picture, as is "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers," blended with seven new songs by Lopez and Anderson-Lopez (who share music and lyric credit). Broadway's own Doug Besterman ( Sister Act, How to Succeed..., Young Frankenstein, Damn Yankees) orchestrated the songs.
Anderson-Lopez also voices the character of Kanga in the film. Her husband admitted, "I make the sounds for Pooh's tummy — which figures prominently in the plot. I even 'sing' a whole duet with Pooh."
The actress Zooey Deschanel sings a few of the Anderson-Lopez/Lopez songs (the ones not voiced by characters) and she wrote and sang the end-credits tune. Lopez and Anderson-Lopez previously collaborated on a live Disney theme-park musical version of the film "Finding Nemo," and are working on other musicals together and with others. Anderson-Lopez co-wrote the musical In Transit.
Of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, the siblings who wrote the scores to Disney's "Mary Poppins," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Happiest Millionaire" and more, Lopez said, "We're going to get to meet them soon, I think. I'm really excited to meet the Sherman Brothers — they're my heroes."
"Winnie the Pooh" is directed by directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall. The film is based on characters — Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Christopher Robin and others from deep in The Hundred Acre Wood — created by A.A. Milne. The producing team includes Peter Del Vecho (producer), John Lasseter (executive producer), Craig Sost (associate producer) and Clark Spencer (producer).
The voice cast also includes Jim Cummings (Pooh/Tigger), John Cleese (Narrator), Craig Ferguson (Owl), Tom Kenny (Rabbit), Bud Luckey (Eeyore), Travis Oates (Piglet) and Jack Boulter (Christopher Robin).