When Disney Theatricals has a “flop,” their flops last at least a year on the Great White Way. Their two “failed productions” are Tarzan and The Little Mermaid, both seen as commercial and critical flops for the production company, even though both shows lasted much longer than “Moose Murders.” Look it up, it was a thing that existed. Disney has had one large misfire in the musical department, however, and that beauty of a “huh?” was Disney’s On the Record.
This show was thought up during the big jukebox musical boom of the early 2000’s. The team behind Disney Theatricals decided they wanted to join the club by creating a musical/revue utilizing Disney’s massive and eclectic array of songs. When You Wish was created, it hopes of going to Broadway, and starring Tony Award winner Faith Prince. And then…it tanked. It never made it past the workshop phase.
After that failure, they decided to heavily modify it into a touring only production. Originally, its concept featured 4 recording artists in the studio with a simple story, yet one with a lot of tension and complex character traits. They all go into the studio, accompanied by some background singers, to record classic Disney hits. The show’s plot was watered down by the time the tour actually began, featuring the lead four in a “love rectangle,” yet all portrayed through facial expressions and song, no book.
The musical toured the country for 9 months (actually closing earlier than they wanted, after disappointed crowds on the road too. This show can’t catch a break!), originally starring Emily Skinner, star of the Original Broadway Cast of Side Show, among other things, but was later replaced by Kaitlin Hopkins (who is now the head of musical theater at Texas University! How cool is that?!). The show featured Brian Sutherland and Andrew Samonsky in the male leads.
The other female lead was played by Disney darling, Ashley Brown. If you are not familiar with her name, I would not be surprised if she is the first Disney on Broadway star to become a Disney Legend (I hope she is, as she’s the best). Ashley was basically plucked right from college into starring in the touring production, where she remained for its entire run. From there, she went to Broadway to be Belle in Beauty and the Beast. As Thomas Schumacher has stated before, one night before the show began to tell her she will be the original Mary Poppins on Broadway. Yeah, I know. It’s amazing. And side note, I had the wonderful opportunity to see her on Broadway when she played our favorite nanny, and she was extraordinary.
The show is most remembered (which is not a lot) for its spectacular music. Now, it did feature all of your favorite Disney songs (even Home on the Range), but rearranged by David Chase, into super fun, lively and heart-string-tugging medleys. The album is not available digitally (which is a travesty), but I’ve included the YouTube playlist of the full album. I highly suggest you listen, and maybe put a used copy on your Christmas list.
I would love to see this show return in some form or another. Frankly, a live production at a theme park would do just fine, or a benefit concert production. On the Record, I want more On the Record!