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Disney NOT on Broadway: Shows that never made it to the Great White Way

by Jeff DePaoli

In a normal June, the Broadway and live theatre community would have celebrated the past year of theatre with ceremonies like the annual Tony Awards and other various theatre honors. But like much else in 2020, these awards ceremonies either didn’t take place or were done in some sort of compromised way due to COVID-19.

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Screengrab via La Jolla Playhouse

As any good Disney fan knows, Disney has had a consistent presence on Broadway for over 25 years now, since the opening of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” What you may not know is that Disney Theatrical Group has created and produced many productions that never went to Broadway. A lot of the shows they created were made for the purpose of touring and licensing. In celebration of live theater on Broadway and beyond during this unprecedented June, let’s take a look at the equally exciting Disney Theatrical Productions that never went to the Great White Way.

101 Dalmatians Kids

In a loving home in the city of London, canine parents Pongo and Perdita happily raise their Dalmatian puppies until the monstrous Cruella De Vil plots to steal them for her new fur coat! Join all the dogs of London as they daringly rescue the puppies from Cruella’s bumbling henchmen. With a delightfully fun score, lovable characters, and one of the most deliciously evil villains in the Disney canon, “101 Dalmatians Kids” is certain to charm and delight audiences of any age.

Alice in Wonderland Jr.

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Join Alice’s madcap adventures in Wonderland as she chases the White Rabbit, races the Dodo Bird, gets tied up with the Tweedles, raps with a bubble-blowing Caterpillar, and beats the Queen of Hearts at her own game! With an updated score, including new versions of Disney favorites, “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” brings a fresh take on the classic story to a new generation of performers and audiences.

The Aristocats Kids

the aristocats kids

Madame’s jealous butler, Edgar, cat-naps Duchess and her kittens and abandons them in the Parisian countryside. What’s a cat to do? Luckily, Thomas O’Malley and his rag-tag bunch of Alley Cats come to their rescue! With a beloved Disney score, the feline adventure in “The Aristocats Kids” is sure to get audiences tapping their feet to its hip, jazzy beat.

Camp Rock: The Musical

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“Camp Rock: The Musical,” based on the hit Disney Channel Original Movies “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam,” will fire up the stage with a showdown of rival bands. Featuring over a dozen songs, including “This is Me,” “Can’t Back Down,” “It’s On,” and “We Rock,” “Camp Rock: The Musical” is sure to have audiences rockin’ with delight!

Descendants: The Musical

descendants the musical

Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost – home of the most infamous villains who ever lived – the teenaged children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cuella De Vil have never ventured off the island… until now.

Offered a chance of redemption, the four troublemakers are sent to idyllic Auradon to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes. Now entering a completely foreign world and way of life, the rebel offspring have a difficult choice to make: should they follow in their parents’ wicked footsteps or learn to be good?

“Descendants: The Musical” is a brand-new musical based on the popular Disney Channel Original Movie franchise, jam-packed with comedy, adventure, Disney characters, and hit songs from all three films!

Finding Nemo Jr.

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Disney’s “Finding Nemo Jr.” is a 60-minute musical adaptation of the beloved 2003 Pixar movie “Finding Nemo,” with new songs written by award-winning composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez.

The story follows the adventures of Marlin, a timid clownfish, and this son, Nemo. After Nemo is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, they both face challenges on the journey to be reunited. This one may sound familiar to folks who know “Finding Nemo: The Musical” performed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Freaky Friday

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When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again. “Freaky Friday,” a new musical based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films, is a heartfelt, comedic, and unexpectedly emotional update on an American classic. By spending a day in each other’s shoes, Katherine and Ellie come to appreciate one another’s struggles, learn self-acceptance, and realize the immeasurable love and mutual respect that bond a mother and daughter.

With a book by Bridget Carpenter (“Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights”) and an original pop/rock score by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (“Next to Normal,” “If/Then”), “Freaky Friday” delivers a contemporary musical comedy with sharp wit, rousing tunes and a deeply emotional core.

High School Musical: On Stage

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One of the biggest pop-culture phenomena in recent memory, “High School Musical” topped the music charts and broke records within weeks of its 2006 Disney Channel premiere. Follow the antics of East High’s most popular students as they come alive on stage in this fun-tastic, family-friendly show that only Disney can bring you. Get’cha head in the game!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

hunchback of notre dame

From the Oscar-winning team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz comes a lush retelling of Victor Hugo’s epic story of love, acceptance, and what it means to be a hero.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the beloved Disney animated feature, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” showcases the film’s Oscar-nominated score as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and returns to the source material, featuring verbatim passages from Hugo’s gothic novel.

The Jungle Book Kids

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The jungle is jumpin’ with jazz in this exciting Disney classic! Adapted for young performers from the beloved Disney film and the works of Rudyard Kipling, this musical includes all your favorite Disney tunes, including “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.” With colorful characters and that toe-tapping jungle rhythm, “The Jungle Book Kids” is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages.

Moana Jr.

moana jr

Disney’s “Moana Jr.” is a 60-minute musical based on the 2016 Disney animated movie “Moana,” about an adventurous teenager who embarks on a daring mission across the Pacific Ocean to save her people. With the once-mighty demigod Maui as her unlikely companion, Moana sets sail to fulfill the quest of her ancestors and discover her own destiny. The musical features songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina.

“Moana Jr.” celebrates the rich history of Oceania and is based on the beliefs and cultures of real people. In creating the original film, the producers at Disney Animation formed an Oceanic Trust. This group of anthropologists, cultural practitioners, historians, linguists, and choreographers from islands including Samoa, Tahiti, Mo’orea, and Fiji was integral in the creation of the film, providing feedback and notes on character design, song lyrics, and the depiction of culture onscreen. This respect and careful attention to detail was carried forward in the creation of “Moana Jr.” for the stage.

My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale

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“My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale” is a light-hearted spin on the classic Pinocchio story. Once the Blue Fairy grants Geppetto his wish for a new son, the new father finds his parenting skills are a bit rough.

With a book by David Stern, Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz creates an original score expanded from Disney’s “Geppetto,” the live-action TV movie starring Drew Carey, and paired with much loved songs from Disney’s animated feature “Pinocchio.”

Shakespeare in Love: The Play

shakespeare in love

“Shakespeare in Love” is a play with music adapted for the stage from the Oscar-winning 1998 film by Lee Hall, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.

A romantic piece of historical fiction, the story centers around a young Will Shakespeare as he struggles to find his inspiration. This play brings Shakespeare’s dialogue to the forefront and highlights its theatrical origins. Much of the dialogue is taken from Shakespeare’s cannon (with “Romeo and Juliet” featured heavily throughout) and many of the plot devices employ tactics commonly found in plays of the Elizabethan age: cross-dressing disguises, mistaken identities, suspicions of adultery, sword fighting, a comedic nurse, and even visions of ghosts are all present, as is the enduring “play-within-a-play” convention that Shakespeare fondly adopted for many of his works.

Overall, “Shakespeare in Love” delivers a delightfully crowd-pleasing, deeply romantic, and highly adventurous tale of love and drama in Renaissance-era England.

Winnie the Pooh Kids

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Welcome to the Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie the Pooh is once again in search of honey. Along the way, he meets his pals Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, and Owl, but soon discovers that Christopher Robin has been captured by the Backson! As they prepare for a rescue operation, the animals learn about teamwork, friendship, and sharing snacks!

Based on the beloved characters of A.A. Milne and the 2011 Disney animated  film, featuring a score by Tony and Oscar-winning duo, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson–Lopez, this show is the perfect first pick for your young performers.

If you would like to learn more about these stage productions, and even those that have made it to Broadway, visit DisneyTheatricalLicensing.com.


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 gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.

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1 comment

Carmine Crincoli June 25, 2020 - 12:47 am

That’s a pretty great article!
I’d like to see these Disney movies adapted into musicals for Broadway!
– Enchanted
– Oliver and Company
– The Princess and the Frog
– Tangled
– Moana
– The Jungle Book
– Robin Hood
– Hercules
– Mulan
– Peter Pan
– 101 Dalmatians
– Sleeping Beauty
– Cinderella
– Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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