(Image courtesy of wdwinfo.com)
Like many of you, I’ve been eagerly following the development of Disney Springs. Each announcement of a new restaurant or store brings more anticipation for my next visit. As I’ve been following along, though, I can’t help but notice one glaring (in my view) omission from the Disney Springs plan: a theatre. No, not a movie theatre. That is already covered by the AMC theatres. I mean an actual theatre for live productions. And there are a few reasons why I think that a theatre is an obvious omission.
First, it would make sense considering the story of the origin of Disney Springs. As described in Nicole Mancini’s excellent article for The DIS, Disney Springs is “a small town that grew up around a natural spring”, and that it is comprised of districts and neighborhoods that have developed over time and reflect their function. Small towns, especially those with long histories, almost always have small theatres for live events (that only occasionally feature freaky French clowns), so it fits the “history” of Disney Springs that it should have one. Now, I do realize that these small-town theatres usually host only amateur productions; I’ll address that later on.
Second, with shortened park hours, especially in the low seasons, there is a need for entertainment after the gates have closed. Yes, I know that they tried it before with Pleasure Island, and that Pleasure Island ultimately failed, bringing us to our present situation with Disney Springs. However, it did work for a while. And it could work again, I’m sure, with the right material.
Third, now, I’m not usually the kind of Disney fan who actively tries to think of novel new ways for Disney to take more of my money; the Mouse gets enough of my paycheque. However, I got this idea today when I was baking cookies and listening to the Aida soundtrack (as you do on a cool, rainy day in September) and I wondered why Disney isn’t taking advantage of its considerable library of musicals. It’s all right there at their disposal: libretto, music, character, concepts. All that’s missing is the venue.
So imagine this…a small-ish venue that suits the size and story of Disney Springs, which plays, in rotation, scaled-down productions of Disney musicals. Some of Disney’s musicals, when they debuted on Broadway, were giant spectaculars with big casts and lots of gadgets and pyrotechnics. I’m thinking of well-conceived, small-scale productions, such as something that could conceivably be produced by a small-town theatre company. Think of creative and spare use of props and things such as The Lion King and Aida (to bring us back to the inspiration for this idea).
It would be an incredible opportunity for those of us who did not get a chance to see the original productions of Disney’s musicals, but who have enjoyed the music for years. I know that I would love to see and hear live productions of Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book (I didn’t even know they had done that), Mary Poppins, Newsies, King David, Peter and the Starcatcher. Heck, I might even pay to see Tarzan.
And finally, perhaps the best reason of all: it would give all of those out-of-work performers from The Adventurers’ Club something to do. Or even better: Kungaloosh…the Musical!
(Sidebar: According to Wikipedia, Disney Theatrical Productions is currently working on live versions of Frozen [surprise!], Pinocchio, The Muppets, The Princess Bride, Alice in Wonderland, Father of the Bride, Freaky Friday, and Shakespeare in Love.)