Disney Executive Elected Chairman of Broadway League

News   Disney Executive Elected Chairman of Broadway League
Thomas Schumacher succeeds Robert E. Wankel.
Thomas Schumacher
Thomas Schumacher Walt Disney Studios

Thomas Schumacher, president of the Disney Theatrical Group, has been unanimously elected chairman of The Broadway League, the trade group representing Broadway producers and theatre owners.

Schumacher is expected to assume the role in December 2017 from Robert E. Wankel of the Shubert Organization, and will work closely with Charlotte St. Martin, the League president.

“It is a brilliant idea from the League to give leadership a long ramp-up period,” Schumacher told Forbes. “Until then I’m going to do my job studying and observing.”

The appointment will close a chapter in recent Broadway management history. Under Schumacher’s management, Disney Theatrical was formed in the early 1990s and made its entrance to the Broadway stage with the adaptation of the animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast. The company has continued with adaptations of Disney films The Lion King, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, the recent Aladdin, and the forthcoming Frozen, plus the original musical adaptation of Aida. Two of those shows, Beauty and the Beast and the still-running The Lion King, are among the top 10 long-running Broadway shows of all time.

But Disney likes to do things its own way, and has preferred to negotiate its own contracts with the Broadway unions for most of its first two decades. Disney did not join the Broadway League until 2013 but reportedly still has its own separate contracts.

A graduate of UCLA, Schumacher produced Disney’s animated feature films before focusing on the live theatre. He’s on the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing, and the Tony Awards Administration Committee.

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