Musical theatre Disney movies from Scene to Stage - Alex Brett

Musical theatre

Musical Theatre is a dramatic form, combining music, spoken dialogue, dance and song to tell a story. A musical can contain singing and dancing acts that have been around for centuries and are still significant today.

Musicals include dialogue, singing and dancing.

Julie taymor

Julie Taymor. Director, Designer and Playwright, Taymor is the creative head behind translating The Lion King from scene to stage. In other words, from classic Disney Film to Broadway phenomenon. Julie Taymor designed the masks, costumes and puppets for The Lion King, The Musical, winning two Tony Awards.

The Lion King

The Lion King musical began in 1997, directed and designed by Julie Taymor. This particular stage production is the fourth longest running Broadway show in history and is still running to this day. The creative musical has earned many awards including a Tony for Best Choreography and Best Director of a Musical.


Stampede/Mufasa's Death - Taymor uses the musical range of the orchestra to emphasis the importance and sadness and to build anticipation. Taymor truly showcases her director talents through this scene. The performers use large animal masks and rapidly move them up and down to create the running stampede effect. The lights are dimmed to focus on Simba and Mufasa.

Costumes and Puppets - The director reinforced the African setting by using bright prints, grass skirts and woven corsets. Silk cloth is used for costumes to emphasis the human shape and their powerful joints. Taymor created giant, detailed animal masks to show the character but doesn't completely cover the human face so you're not losing the facial expressions. Initially, Taymor wanted the masks to be made of wood to link them back to the African culture but instead used carbon graphite to allow the actor to move freely without feeling weighed down.

Final Battle - Although the actors are wearing bulky, heavy costumes they are still able to create such a realistic feel. The orchestra uses intense music to show the characters' emotions. Julie Taymor also uses the art of silhouettes to show the finer details of the characters' costumes while they are fighting.


Aladdin debuted in March, 2014 and is one of Broadway's newest additions. Director and Choreographer, Casey Nicholaw has won many awards for her outstanding production, including a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. The stage show only showcases three songs from the film, A Whole New World, Prince Ali and Friend Like Me.


Magic Carpet - There is many technical details to create this mesmerizing act. The Director decided that by shaking a giant piece of blue silk across the stage it gives the impression of flying. Carbon dioxide is pumped through a plastic tube to create effect of fog in the sky as the main characters fly. No wires are used to create this scene, it is simply an act of magic, the designer of the carpet says.

Many believe that the carpet uses magnetic force to create the flying effect but it has not been confirmed.

The Genie - The Genie wears a truly spectacular costume, containing hundreds of tiny crystals and sequins. The outfit has been carefully designed to showcase the magic that is Aladdin. The Genie's costume is blue, connecting to the film's Genie in which the character is blue. The costume designer still wanted to reinforce that fact that the Genie is in slavery with sequin sashes that almost look like chains.

Costumes - The costumes have been designed and constructed very differently yet are very similar. There are over 300 costumes used in the musical and over 500 000 Swarovski crystals were ordered for them. Each vest worn by the ensemble is covered in just under 4 000 crystals, sewn on by hand. The costume designers got the inspiration from ancient Middle Eastern garments and different cultural groups.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins first came to stage in London at West End. It was so successful that it was brought to Broadway in 2006, directed by Richard Eyre. The musical closely relates to the books rather than the 1965 film. It has since received many Tony awards, such as one of Best Musical.

Difficulties/differences translating this film to stage

Mary Poppins Flies - This scene was absolutely extraordinary and created such a magical feel. The actor playing Mary wears a harness under her costume that is attached to small wires above her, that control where she can go in the air. Mary usually flies over the audience towards the conclusion of the show, when the two wires pick her up, giving the magical, flying effect.

Costumes - The cast mostly wear quite old-fashioned outfits although when the toys come to life, they are dressed in very colourful vibrant costumes. Mary often wear suit jackets and formal skirts with black boots. The chimney sweeps wear dark, dull clothing to show they are covered in soot. The toy costumes took time and effort and are the brightest costumes used in the musical.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was directed by Robert Jess Roth and ran for over 5 000 performances. Beauty and the Beast was the first Broadway show from Disney Theatrical. The musical came out in 1994 and ran for over 10 years, stopping in 2007. It has become Broadway's eighth longest-running show in history. The production has made over $1.4 billion worldwide. This Broadway show, like the three above, won a Tony for Best Costume Design.

Difficulties/Differences translating this film to stage

Costumes - The costume designer created many gown and suits to suit the theme of the Broadway production. The representation of the tea pot, tea cup, candle and clock were very different on stage. The design team decided that the actors would never fully become the object, rather slowly transform into the object, but never fully do. The designers had to create many different costumes to showcase each stage of the transformation. Actors playing servants wore costumes that used wires for support of their heavy outfits.

The actors never fully became the objects but would slowly transform into them.

The Beast - The Beast's costumes used a wire frame to keep his strict shape, as well as hair and makeup. The Beast wears a large animal mask that covers the entity of his face. Towards the end of the production the Beast transforms into a handsome Prince. This is done by the Beast crossing to the back of the stage where two cast members hold up a cloth so the Beast can exit the stage and the Prince can come on.

The Beast wore a large animal mask covering his face, while Belle wore her traditional yellow gown.

Belle - In the Broadway version, Belle has keep her signature look the same yet changed same things. In the opening scenes Belle is wearing a long skirt and a corseted skirt. Belle's costumes link back to the film itself, but mostly link to the musical's set time. In the ending, Belle is wearing a long yellow gown, decorated in red roses. This is very similar to her original dress yet still introduces a new twist.

Several Disney Movies have become very successful Broadway Productions, making billions. Today there are still so many films being translated to stage and we are very hopeful that they will be just as spectacular as the ones before them.

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