Hercules is the latest Disney title to leap from screen to stage.
A musical adaptation of the animated film will play the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park, concluding the Off-Broadway company’s 2019 Shakespeare in the Park season. Performances will run August 31 through September 8.
Lear deBessonet will direct the production, marking the seventh year of her Public Works series. The initiative unites Equity performers with community members from all five New York City boroughs in a staged presentation free to the public (past titles have included musical versions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It).
The musical will include Alan Menken and David Zippel’s songs from the 1997 animated film, including the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance,” as well as new material and an adapted book by Pulitzer Prize finalist Kristoffer Diaz. Chase Brock will choreograph.
Menken first revealed that he was at work on a stage adaptation of the movie in 2017, though elected not to provide any details about a potential premiere at that time.
DeBessonet notes that Hercules' particular hybrid of traditional mythology and a gospel-driven score is especially appropriate for Public Works' mission of bringing theatre to the masses. She says: “We’re excited to see how this Public Works production will uncover the deeper meaning of what it means to be a hero and how true strength is derived, not from the greatness of one person, but the transformative power of community.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Lear deBessonet back at the helm of our Public Works initiative for the first time since 2015,” Public Theater Artistic Director Oscar Eustis said in a statement. “Alan Menken is one of the great musical geniuses of our time; it is an honor to welcome him, David Zippel, and Kristoffer Diaz to the Delacorte. Our Public Works community promises to connect this brilliantly conceived story back to the earth from which it sprang: the people. What a grand and unlikely experience this will be!”
The production, presented through an arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, will feature sets by Dane Laffrey, costumes by Andrea Hood, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau, sound design by Kai Harada and Jessica Paz, and hair and makeup design by Cookie Jordan.
Prior to Hercules, the SITP season will launch with Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Kenny Leon, running May 21 through June 23. Next will be Coriolanus, heading to the Delacorte for the first time in 40 in a production directed by Daniel Sullivan. Performances will begin July 16 and are scheduled through August 11.
Casting for all three productions will be announced at a later date.