Since the mega-success of the original Broadway recording of Hamilton, which launched on Disney+ on July 3rd, 2020, and has since become the year’s most-streamed movie of all the subscription-based services, many have wondered what stage recording could be released next.
While there are plenty of video-recordings of popular musicals and stage-plays, the theatre industry has notoriously oarded professional recordings of many popular shows, which has led to fans creating bootlegs recordings or “slime tutorials”, which makes the release of a smash-smash-smash-hit like Hamilton all the more surprising.
In this list, I’m presenting ten shows (non-ranked) that I think would be perfect for Disney to release on the Disney+, whether they are Disney-owned or could potentially be acquired- by them in a non-ranked listing.
Note: I’ve seen a lot of people stating that Disney should record and release Wicked, but it should be mentioned that not only have Universal Studios produced the original Broadway production since its conception, but they exclusively own the Wicked IP. So, if any iteration of the Broadway musical should be made available to stream then it would be on Peacock in the US and Sky in the UK.
Okay. So, this one we know is coming, though it currently remains unannounced by Disney. The Broadway version closely follows the plot of the film but has a few changes, notably, the inclusion of songs cut from the original film and the addition of several new characters.
The British version of Aladdin opened in London in 2016 (only two-years after New York), and while I didn’t care for it, the show became a huge hit… until 2019 when it closed. On August 31st, 2019, the production was recorded, and if the rumours are true, we could be seeing it on Disney+ very soon.
2. The Lion King
The highest-grossing stage musical of all time that has performed on every continent including Antarctica (if you count the April Fool’s Day performance) must have been recorded for archive purposes. Still, I have to say that a new recording similar to Hamilton would be better, in my opinion.
Imagine a recording of The Lion King with close-ups of the puppets and masks, over-head shots of the eye-popping scenery, and inspiring choreography. A recording of The Lion King would make millions if released in theatres and bring in thousands of new subscribers if made available on Disney+.
They should also invest in recording a production which features only African languages and no English whatsoever. It hasn’t been done, but it should be done!
3. Shakespeare in Love
Did you even know that Disney Theatrical Productions adapted Shakespeare in Love for the stage? I won’t blame you if you didn’t because it remains one of Disney’s most under-the-radar stage shows ever.
Telling the story of a fictitious love affair between William Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps, Shakespeare in Love is probably more famous nowadays for beating Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture at the 71st Annual Academy Awards.
Closely following the same plot as the film, the play premiered at the Noël Coward Theatre in London on July 23rd, 2014, where it ran until April 18th, 2015. While it didn’t achieve awards love like its film counterpart, it found some success internationally with performances in Canada, the US, and South Africa (where it was such a big hit it was revived in 2018, just one year after its premiere).
A live recording of Shakespeare in Love would be a more than welcome addition to Disney+. It will stand-out not only for being targeted mainly for adults but also for being a straight-play with no musical numbers.
4. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Everybody is Talking About Jamie is an outstanding musical based upon the true story of Jamie Campbell (re-named Jamie New for the musical), a young teenager who dreams about becoming a drag queen.
While the musical is massive in the UK and the theatre fandom in general, it’s yet to pick-up steam internationally with only a limited-run in South Korea, and an Australian tour which has been postponed due to COVID-19.
Disney acquired the movie version as part of their acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and after some delays, the film is currently scheduled for February 26th, 2021. Luckily for Disney, if they wanted to get some good word of mouth going, the original London cast recorded the show for British and Irish cinemas back in 2018.
I was unable to find who owns the streaming rights to the stage recording. Still, assuming no competitors own it, it would be a very welcome addition to Disney+, which is sorely lacking LGBTQ+ representation.
5. Once on this Island
Based upon the novel “My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl” by Trinidadian-American author, Rosa Guy. The novel and musical adaptation are both Caribbean re-tellings of The Little Mermaid.
Originally produced on Broadway in 1990, the musical has regained popularity after its successful revival in 2017 for which it was nominated for eight Tony Awards, winning one for Best Revival of a Musical.
Similar to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Disney is set to adapt the musical into a Disney+ Orignal Movie. This may put Disney off recording the stage-version or releasing a previously recorded version, but I thought I would include Once on This Island because it’s a little show with a big heart that everyone should have a chance to see.
6. Beauty and the Beast
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is often considered to be “the one that started it all”, but for Broadway, the one that started it all was Beauty and the Beast.
Disney’s first attempt at the Broadway stage came in 1994 when they adapted their Academy Award-winning animated film for the stage, only three years after its debut in cinemas. Despite being panned by theatre critics, who weren’t too keen with Disney stepping on their territory, the musical found great success with audiences. It went on to win one of its nine Tony Award nominations (for Best Costume Design of a Musical) and ran for thirteen years before closing to make way for The Little Mermaid.
There’s no reason why Disney shouldn’t archive their very first foray into the Broadway world. It’s been around for so long that illegal bootlegs from productions around the world in multiple languages have been made available, so why not beat those law-breakers at their own game by releasing a professional recording of the musical on Disney+?
7. Sister Act: The Musical
In 2010, Whoopi Goldberg guest-starred for a limited time in London’s Sister Act the Musical as Mother Superior. But in 2021, Goldberg will return in the role she originated on the big screen in 1992.
How – can – they – not – record – that?!
The tickets are currently on sale and are… expensive… with available tickets ranging between £140 to £250. Considering that the revival is scheduled to only run for under one month, Disney would be stupid not to record the revitalized production for Disney+.
Think of what a perfect 2021 Christmas release it could be!
8. Frozen the Musical
The stage-adaptation of Frozen has been bumpy, to say the least. It opened with largely mixed reviews, it wasn’t making as much money as Disney had hoped, and it unceremoniously closed with the rest of Broadway on March 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, that date would be the final performance because Disney Theatrical Productions announced that the show would not re-open with Broadway.
While the show is not completely dead in the water since there four international productions (Sydney, London, Hamburg, and Tokyo) set to open in 2020 and 2021. It seems incredibly unfair for the whole Broadway Frozen team that they would unexpectedly close. Since Frozen is still as popular as it was in 2013, a professionally-recorded film of the stage-show would be a great addition to the Frozen Collection on Disney+. It would be even better if they were able to reunite as much of the original Broadway cast as possible.
Tarzan opened at the Richard Rogers Theatre (the current home of Hamilton) on May 10, 2006. Despite Phil Collins returning to score the show after winning an OSCAR for his work on the animated film, and some impressive aerial stunts, the musical just didn’t connect with audiences and ended up closing on July 8th, 2007.
Tarzan became Disney Theatrical Productions first flop, but surprisingly Tarzan has seen life elsewhere in the world. It remains very popular on continental Europe with sell-out productions in The Netherlands and Germany. So popular in fact, that both countries produced their own X-Factor style reality shows to search for actors to portray Tarzan and Jane.
For Disney+, I think that Disney shouldn’t record an English-language production of Tarzan, but one performed in a different language since the show has seen more success outside of America. A non-English Disney+ Original would really broaden their audience and if they want to compete with the likes of Netflix, which regularly pumps out shows and movies from across the globe, then Disney should capitalise on their success in international markets.
If people in Europe can watch Hamilton in English with subtitles of their native language, then you can watch a Dutch version of Tarzan with English subtitles.
10. Into the Woods – LIVE!
Disney released a live-action adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods back in 2014, and it was pretty good despite its various redundant changes.
The original musical opened on Broadway in 1986 and revived in 2002. It blends several classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel into one new story.
When it comes to making a version of the show available on Disney+, what I really mean is that they should record and stream a live version of the musical, similar to NBC’s Hairspray Live! or Fox’s Grease LIVE! They could even air it on ABC live before making it a permanent addition to Disney+.
A live version of Into the Woods could be either really bad or really good depending on how they approach it. The film had alterations to make it more family-friendly, and its those changes that brought the movie down. If they were to copy the 2002 Broadway revival then they’d probably have a big hit on their hands – especially if they’re able to snag Vanessa L. Williams to reprise her role as The Witch.
Those are my choices of the ten-stage shows I think Disney should make available on Disney+. I probably missed a lot of plays, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for a good musical.
Let me know your thoughts and what shows you would like to see on Disney+ in the comments!