Disney Plus is already a home for many musicals, and whether you’re more into the animated films of Hercules and Mulan, or the spinoff series High School Musical, there are plenty of shows and movies to keep any Disney subscriber Busier.
Things change, however, with the arrival of Hamilton, which is expected to land on service on July 3 – well before its theatrical release date originally scheduled for October 2021.
The award-winning musical – written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also starred in his original Broadway production – stormed audiences and critics with his hip-hop opera mash-up, which explores life politically turbulent of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers.
His arrival on Disney Plus will be welcome for those of us who have failed to see the show in person – a huge number, given the limited number of seats per performance and the rising ticket prices . If you don’t live in or near London or New York, your only real option is to listen to the soundtrack (which still resists beautifully on its own).
But Hamilton coming to Disney Plus also opens the door to the many Disney musicals broadcast on Broadway and in London’s West End TV streaming service. Here’s why.
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An entirely new world
Disney has been a huge force in the world of Broadway and West End musicals for years, including massive blockbuster shows like The Lion King and Aladdin, for others like Tarzan or The Little Mermaid tour of many countries without necessarily ending up at a huge London or Broadway Theater. There is even a musical for Mary Poppins!
However, 2020 is not as usual. With lockouts that keep cinemas, theaters, bars and entertainment venues closed for the foreseeable future, more and more of us are turning to TV streaming services to eliminate our content patch.
Disney Plus didn’t exactly need this driver, with millions of subscribers signed up in the early days in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and more in the months that followed, as it spread to the U.K. and the rest from Europe. But the fact remains that live performance has been paused, and platforms like Disney Plus offer a way to compensate for this.
Disney also performed with streams for musical performances, including its Disney on Broadway 25th Anniversary concert, which was filmed in late 2019 (remember 2019?) And aired in April 2020 to raise funds for victims of Covid -19.
Of course, many Disney musicals have been closed for weeks due to lockdowns, so it is unlikely that any performances not yet streamed for Disney Plus will have the opportunity in the coming weeks. . The West End of London should also be closed until June 28, if not later, while Broadway should be closed at least in September (via the New York Times).
On Disney Plus, you will also find a filmed performance of Broadway’s musical Newsway – alongside the 1992 film version with a rather young Christian Bale.
We would be surprised, however, if Disney did not have some form of video recordings for many of its other musicals – or a plan to get them – particularly with its participation in Hamilton showing an interest in wearing musicals on the scene.
Theater videographer Bartek Podkowa ((Seven Hills Movie) told us that Disney would likely go ahead with “Frozen, The Lion King and Aladdin – assuming they have pre-existing recordings.” Filming new shows on the scale they are dealing with would be incredibly difficult in the immediate future, so I would expect them to start with what they already have available. “
“I hope that the musicals in streaming could reach an audience which should not normally consider giving a turn to a staged musical, and convincing them to start to see live shows once the rooms are reopened”, added Podkowa – while acknowledging that Disney’s “refined and big budget” streams could stifle attempts to stream small theaters and theaters during the extended shutdown.
A leap forward
A way to climb the biggest Disney musicals in their stage form and watch them back to back with the original animated films that spawned them would be a massive addition to the Disney Plus catalog – which, as it stands, is still suffering lack of variety outside of its Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and Disney channels. Why not a tab dedicated to “Disney Plus Live”?
There are also many other live musicals that attract thousands of paying viewers each month – and if Disney were able to get the streaming rights for a number of them, its streaming service could become a home for stage musicals, current and past, for those who cannot or see them in person.
Imagine seeing Matilda, Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked next to The Last Jedi and Black Panther, or even Book of Mormon (although we didn’t expect Disney to bring this largely family service).
We have seen similar action from the National Theater in the UK, which has extended its usual NT Live program to include a weekly broadcast of past productions, with a strategy of limited availability in streaming so as not to completely replace performance live.
For now, we’ll be happy with Hamilton – but if Disney doesn’t have a roadmap for its upcoming musicals on Disney Plus, it should probably start planning one.