Will Disney's The Little Mermaid Swim Back to North America?

News   Will Disney's The Little Mermaid Swim Back to North America?
The Disney musical The Little Mermaid, a flop when it initially appeared on Broadway in 2009, may be heading back to North America in a retooled version.

Producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher recently told Vulture.com, "Our 'flop' was Little Mermaid. That ran a year and a half. So, yes, we have had shows that, for us, qualify as unsuccessful in their initial Broadway run. In the case of Mermaid, there were a lot of mitigating factors: The economic downturn. There was a huge union strike that stopped the show before it could open. We missed Christmas. There’s all these things I could blame it on, but in reality, we somehow missed delivering on the vision of the show and have since been able to reinvent it. We have a version of the show with a whole new team that has played extensively in Holland, did two great seasons in Moscow, and is now a massive success in Japan. And that will likely come back to North America. But I had to go away, get out of here and reinvent it."

Schumacher added, "Tarzan, similarly, is now playing in Stuttgart, where it’s a big ol’ hit, and it played for five years in Hamburg. Again, a little bit reinvented, not as fully as Little Mermaid, but I get a second bite at the apple, if you will. I took responsibility for the first one, but I also take responsibility for the fact that we turned these things into economic successes."

Disney's lavish Broadway musical The Little Mermaid played its final performance at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Aug. 30, 2009, following 50 previews and 685 performances. The stage version of the hit animated film borrowed Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's movie songs and added new songs by Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. Opera director Francesca Zambello directed. Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens) wrote the book.

The recent productions utilize a new version of the show. The family-friendly musical is now helmed by a creative team that includes director Glenn Casale (Beauty and the Beast) and Tony-winning set and costume designer Crowley (Tarzan, Mary Poppins, Aida), who join composer Menken, lyricist Slater and book writer Wright.

"In a magical kingdom beneath the sea," according to Mermaid production notes, "a beautiful young mermaid named Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she'll have to defy her father — the king of the sea — escape the clutches of an evil sea witch and convince a prince that she's the girl with the perfect voice." The musical is based on both the Disney animated film (written and directed by John Musker & Ron Clements) and the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Song titles include "Fathoms Below," "Daughters of Triton," "The World Above," "Human Stuff," "I Want the Good Times Back," "Part of Your World," "Storms at Sea," "She's in Love," "Her Voice," "Under the Sea," "Sweet Child," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Positoovity," "Beyond My Wildest Dreams," "Les Poissons," "One Step Closer," "Kiss the Girl," "If Only," "The Contest" and "Finale Ultimo."

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