During the one-night-only return of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” live stream, Disney Theatrical fans may have gotten an unexpected theatre confirmation in relation to “Hercules.”
One of the most popular daytime talk shows in the ’90s was “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” O’Donnell made items like Koosh Balls, Tickle Me Elmo and even Listerine mouthwash hugely popular. But one other thing she brought a lot of attention to was Broadway musicals.
“The Rosie O’Donnell Show” shot at 30 Rock in New York City from 1996-2002. Being in the heart of New York City, this allowed for many theatrical productions to appear on the show. And with O’Donnell’s undying love for Broadway, this was a common occurrence on the show. “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” was a real dream for any theatre fan and introduced countless viewers to the artform and various productions.
Due to the current pandemic, O’Donnell returned to the host chair for a one-night-only live stream to raise money for The Actors Fund. Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund is a national human services organization available to meet the needs of the entertainment community with a unique understanding of the challenges involved in a life in the arts. Services include emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care, and insurance counseling, senior care, secondary career development and more. Needless to say, over half a million dollars raised during the live stream has gone to a great cause.
Throughout the live stream, many talented folks from various Disney projects appeared including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel, Neil Patrick Harris, Jordan Fisher, Lea Salonga and more. One of the highlights was when composer Alan Menken performed a medley of his songs from “The Little Mermaid,” “Newsies,” “Aladdin,” “Enchanted,” and more from his films. But before beginning the medley, it looks as though Menken confirmed a project that a lot of Disney fans were hoping for but hadn’t heard much new information about.
For years, fans of the Disney animated feature “Hercules” had been hoping that Disney Theatrical Productions would put together a musical stage adaptation of the 1997 movie. In the summer of 2019, Disney Theatrical Group did just that in conjunction with New York City’s Public Theater. It was performed as part of the Shakespeare in the Park season in Central Park for a limited run. Tickets were hard to come by, leaving a lot of “Hercules” fans asking for more opportunities.
Up until “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” live stream on March 22, 2020, we hadn’t heard anything about whether or not this production had a further life. But when O’Donnell asked “Have you been writing? What have you been doing in your downtime?” Menken replied discussing how production has stopped on the live-action “The Little Mermaid” and how he’s been working on “Disenchanted” (the sequel to “Enchanted”). Then he dropped the unexpected confirmation that “’Hercules’ is coming to the stage.”
So, is “Hercules” headed to Broadway? Not necessarily, based on that short reply from Menken. Although that would be the ultimate hope for fans, we’ve definitely seen Disney Theatrical make some more unique decisions for their productions in recent years. Earlier this year we learned that Disney Theatrical Productions “Aida” is slated for a new North American tour in 2021. We’ve also seen Disney stage productions like “Freaky Friday” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” available only for licensing and never getting their shot on the Great White Way.
Overall, there are many possibilities for the future of “Hercules.” Regardless of whether or not it actually makes it to Broadway, it’s exciting to hear that Alan Menken and Disney Theatrical Group are still working on this particular show.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your free gift of “America’s Hidden Mickeys: Lesser Known Disney Destinations Around the U.S.A.” at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.