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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Simple Bare Necessities – On Broadway!

Written by Kyle Slagley

Disney Theatrical Productions is at it again, this time in the jungles of India with Mowgli, Bagheera, and Baloo in tow. I read in Variety not too long ago that the 1967 animated film The Jungle Book has made its debut as a main-stage production this year.

Most folks are familiar with the Rudyard Kipling classic story of a boy raised by wolves in the jungle, the animated film having been a staple for parents for nearly 50 years. With classic songs like “Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You,” it’s unsurprising that Disney Animation decided to transport the story from the screen to the stage.

According to Variety, the show is a partnership between Disney Theatrical Prods and two different theatres, Chicago’s Goodman Theater and Boston’s Huntington Theater. It premiered at the Goodman in June and has just extended its run for the third time; the Huntington responded by extending their run as well, even though the show doesn’t premiere until September 7.

Founded in 1993, Disney Theatrical Prods (like every other arm of the Mouse House) is no stranger to wildly successful shows, and since Disney has that annoying habit of sending movie favourites back into the Disney Vault, the stage shows are a great way to tide fans over between releases.

Beauty and the Beast – Premiering in 1993 in Houston, Texas, the Broadway production began previews in April of 1994. Based on the 1991 animated film (now “in the vault”), the show finally closed in 2007 after more than 5,400 performances. Touring productions have hit over 14 countries. Not bad for being the first stage show Disney ever produced.

The Lion King – Following the huge success of the 1994 animated film (in the vault), the musical debuted in Minneapolis in July of 1997; three months later, in October, it was a smash success on Broadway. Expanding on the music of the film, and putting some of the most majestic costumes ever seen on stage (and in the audience!) have ensured that even now, more than fifteen years later, the show is still running and consistently one of the highest grossing shows on Broadway. If you consider yourself a theatre fan and haven’t seen this show, shame on you.

Mary Poppins – The infamous British nanny, immortalized by Julie Andrews on the silver screen in the 1964 film (in the vault), made her debut on the Great White Way in 2006 after finding success in the UK. The first of the Disney Live Action films to be adapted to the stage, it ran until March of this year when it closed after 2,619 performances. This story makes it back to the movie theatres this fall in “Saving Mr. Banks,” a biopic starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson about Walt Disney and P. L. Travers, author of the original book.

Newsies – One of the hottest new musicals on Broadway right now, the show was supposed to have a limited run beginning in late March of 2012. After being extended to mid-August, Disney announced on May 16 that the show will continue indefinitely. Based on the 1992 film starring Christian Bale, which chronicles the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899, the show was written by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein. It was reported in May that producers are trying to find a theatre in London’s West-End to host a production for the spring of 2014.

Aladdin – Having already premiered in Seattle in 2011, the show bounced to St. Louis in 2012, and will land on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater (home of Mary Poppins before it closed) sometime in 2014. Residents and visitors to Toronto will have a short window from November 13 to January 12 to catch a performance at the Ed Mirvish Theater before it lands for good in New York.

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