I had the fantastic opportunity to see 7 musicals during the 6 days I was in the Big Apple. The Playbills I received at every show had some really interesting articles, but as I began to read the song list and bios from the show’s and their cast members, I began to realize that they all have Disney connections. It was actually kind of humorous how every show I saw had a connection to the Mouse, big or small. So just remember, whenever you’re supporting live theater (which you should), chances are, Disney is intertwined with the show in some way. Here are the Disney connections I found on the Great White Way.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, starring the superb Jessie Mueller in her Tony Award winning role, is a bio-musical about the incomparable songwriter and performer. The show chronicled her journey through the business and her relationship with Gerry Goffin, husband and co-writer. Gerry is played by Jake Epstein who, among many other acting credits, starred in the DCOM “Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire,” also starring Caroline Rhea. If that’s not the most early-2000s sentence ever written, I don’t know what is.
Violet is an original musical featuring a country/folk/gospel score and a story about a woman who has a scar from a freak axe accident when she was younger and travels to Tulsa to see a televangelist to get it healed, right after the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The brilliant and sweet show stars Sutton Foster, who also starred in the fantastic ABC Family show, Bunheads. I have said before and I will say it again…I miss Bunheads oh so much, so seeing Sutton in person was a fantastic experience. I mean, she has 2 Tonys AND starred in my favorite show, so it was a good night at the theater.
Holler If You Hear Me is an original musical about a man being released from jail and having to deal with the stereotypes and racism of being a black man in the city. The show is accompanied only through Tupac Shakur music, which was new, different, and rather exciting to be seen on a Broadway stage. The mother in the show is played by Tonya Pinkins, a Tony Award winner in her own right, but she also was in Enchanted, as a patron of Robert’s divorce attorney office. Saycon Sengbloh, having the female lead in the show, was also in Aida on Broadway.
Heathers is a musical based on the cult 1980’s film (and my all-time favorite movie) starring Winona Ryder as a girl trying to deal with the mean girls at her school in Ohio. The musical incarnation, currently off-Broadway at the New World Stages, was directed by Andy Fickman, who not only directs Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie, but he also directed The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain (which deserves more credit, in my opinion).
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is the newest Tony Award winner for Best Musical. It’s the story of a man who realizes he is 8th in line for a huge fortune, so he begins to kill off everyone in front of him. Clearly, it is a comedy. The hilarious show has Jane Carr playing Miss Shingle, who also played Mrs. Brill in the original Broadway cast of Mary Poppins and Eddie Korbich, who plays Magistrate in this show, was the original Scuttle on Broadway in The Little Mermaid. Lots of Disney on Broadway vets!
If/Then is a completely original musical about a woman, Elizabeth, who has two different life paths shown on stage, going by “Liz” or “Beth” in the two different scenarios. It stars the new Disney icon, Elsa herself, Idina Menzel. That is a big deal in itself, and she was incredible on stage, but the role of Kate in the show is played by LaChanze. For those who aren’t familiar, she was a Muse in Hercules, which is my favorite Disney movie, so that was an even BIGGER deal for me. She was also excellent for a unique and great show.
Have you seen any of these shows or have you found a Disney connection where you least expect it? Let me know in the comments below or on the discussion boards.