DISNEY’S BROADWAY BIRTHDAY

September 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

It’s been 25 years since Disney classics hit the Great White Way. We’ll look back at their impact on the theater and New York City.

Aired on April 10 & September 16, 2019. 

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>> MORE THAN THREE DECADES AGO,
42nd STREET WAS A JUNGLE OF
URBAN DECAY.
THERE WAS HOMELESS AND OPEN AIR
DRUGLESS HELD DOMINION ON WHAT
WAS ONCE THE PLACE WHERE THE
UNDERWORLD COULD MEET THE ELITE.
THEN IN THE 1990s, THE WALT
DISNEY COMPANY, KNOWN FOR ITS
MAGIC ONSCREEN AND ITS
INTERNATIONAL THEME PARKS
REFURBISHED ONE OF 42nd STREET'S
PREMIER THEATERS.
THE PLACE FOR ZIGFELD AND ITS
FOLLIES.
IT ANCHORED THE STREETS AND
DISNEY BECAME THE SUCCESS OF
BROADWAY.
WITH LION KING WHICH OPENED
THERE IN 1997.
STILL GOING STRONG IN ITS 22nd
YEAR.
AND A DISNEY THEATRICAL
PRODUCTIONS APPROACHING THE
ANNIVERSARY, PRESENTING THE
STAGE, ADAPTATIONS, MOVIE WHICH
IS AICS FROM BEAUTY AND THE
BEAST TO THE LITTLE MERMAID
ALONG WITH ITS PRESENT DAY
PRODUCTIONS OF ALADDIN AND
FROZEN AND LION KING.
IT IS CLEAR THAT THE MOUSE AND
THE HOUSE.
JOINING ME, THE PRESIDENT AND
PRODUCER OF DISNEY THEATRICAL
PRODUCTIONS.
WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM
HERE.
>> THANK YOU.
>> SO MUCH I WANT TO TALK ABOUT.
I WANT TO START WITH DISNEY
THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS.
HOW DID IT COME BACK?
>> THIS IS MY VERSION.
WHEN DISNEY ANIMATION WAS COMING
BACK IN ITS RESURGENCE, THEY
WERE GOING TO CHANGE THE FACE OF
ANIMATION WITH MOVIES LIKE
LITTLE MERMAID AND BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST CAUGHT ON
SO MUCH.
FRANK RICH, THE LEGENDARY "NEW
YORK TIMES" CRITIC.
HE SAID THE BEST SCORE THAT 84
WAS BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
THE THEME PARKS THAT YOU
REFERENCE IN THE INTRODUCTION
THAT WALT DISNEY HAD BUILT
ALWAYS HAD LIVE ENTERTAINMENT.
SO A YOUNG GUY, ROBERT JEFF
ROTH, WAS DOING A SHOW IN THE
PARK OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
HE WENT TO OUR THEN CHAIR
MIC
MICHAELIZENER AND SAID WHAT IF
WE DO A CLASSIC MUSICAL?
IT WAS A ONE OFF.
THEY MOUNTED BEAUTY AND THE
BEAST AND PUT IT IN THE THEATER.
THAT GAVE RISE TO THIS IDEA,
MAYBE WE COULD BE ON BROADWAY.
AT THE SAME TIME, MICHAEL
EYESNER HAD BEEN STITCHING
AROUND.
YOU PROBABLY KNOW, THE LEGENDARY
ARCHITECT, HE WAS ON THE DISNEY
BOARD.
AND HE GOT MICHAEL INVOLVED IN
42nd STREET REDEVELOPMENT.
WE THEN MADE A COMMITMENT TO THE
NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER.
SO BEAUTY AND THE BEAST STARTS
IT BUT THE NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER
BECAME THE ICON.
IN FAIRNESS, I WOULD LIKE TO SAY
THERE WAS A REALLY DEVELOPED
STRATEGIC PLAN DEVELOPED AROUND
A BIG BLACK MARKET TABLE.
THE TRUTH IS, MICHAEL GREW UP IN
NEW YORK AND SAID THIS COULD BE
A GOOD THING TO DO.
WE MADE THE COMMITMENT TO DO IT
WITH A LOT OF THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT
IT WOULD TAKE.
AND MY BUSINESS PARTNER AND
VIRTUAL SIBLING, WE WERE THE
ONLY THEATER GUYS WORKING INSIDE
THE STUDIO.
SO HE SAID WHY DON'T YOU GUYS --
>> ON THE WEEKENDS.
>> YEAH.
WE BECAME THE GUYS WHO SAID,
TURN BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND
THE REST OF THIS INTO A
BUSINESS.
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE GLORY
THAT WAS THE NEW AMSTERDAM
THEATER, ONLY THE SECOND THEATER
ON BROADWAY TO HAVE ELECTRICITY.
A BIG DEAL.
EVERYONE THINKS OF THAT THEATER.
MOST WOULD BECAUSE OF BARBRA
STREISAND'S BEAUTIFUL
PERFORMANCE ON STAGE AND ON
FILM.
THE THEATER COULDN'T HAVE BEEN
USED AS A BACK DROP.
IT WAS ALREADY TOTALLY
DILAPIDATED.
IT NEVER DID SHOW PORNOGRAPHY.
IT BECAME KUNG FU PALACE.
RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO AN ADJACENT
BUILDING, THEY DID SHOW PORN BUT
IT WASN'T THERE IT HAD FALLEN
INTO SUCH DISREPAIR, A MASSIVE
RODENT INFESTATION, PLASTER
FALLING OFF THE WALLS.
MOST OF THE DETAIL, YOU WOULD
SAY, OH, MY GOSH.
WE HAD ONE BOX.
FANTASTIC GENUINE ART
RESTORATION.
>> ASTONISHING.
YOU TALK ABOUT THE
TRANSFORMATION.
CERTAINLY WHAT YOUR GROUP HAS
DONE AND THE SUCCESS.
UNRIVALED SUCCESS.
YOU LOOK AT THE SUCCESS
PERCENTAGES OF THE PRODUCTIONS
THERE, AS OPPOSED TO THE REGULAR
ONES.
>> YES.
WE HAVE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL ON
STAGE.
WE'VE HAD OUR FAILURES, OR AT
LEAST INITIAL FAILURES THAT
WON'T TO BECOME PROFITABLE.
DON'T FORGET, IT IS BECAUSE
WE'RE STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS
OF GREATNESS.
YOU THINK ABOUT THE SONG WRITING
THAT REALLY BEGAN WHEN THE
BROADWAY MODEL CAME TO
ANIMATION.
PRIOR TO THAT, WALT'S FILMS WERE
MUSICAL FILMS.
THINK OF LADY AND THE TRAMP.
THE FILM HAPPENED.
NEITHER LADY OR TRAMP EITHER
SING IN THE WHOLE THING.
THE SONGS ARE AGAINST THE
ACTION.
THEY DON'T DRIVE THE ACTION.
THEY'RE PEPPERED IN AROUND.
BUT THESE TWO GUYS THAT WROTE
LITTLE MERMAID SAID WHAT IF WE
USED THE BROADWAY MODEL WHERE
THE STORY GOES WITH THE SONG.
THE SONGS TURN THE CORNER OF THE
STORY.
WE HAD AN AMAZING COLLECTION OF
MOVIES.
THINGS LIKE LITTLE MERMAID AND
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND OF
COURSE, LION KING WHICH THEY
DIDN'T WRITE BUT IT BECOMES BIG.
THEN ALADDIN AND POCAHONTAS AND
ON AND ON.
WE RAISED A GENERATION OR TWO TO
LOVE THIS MUSICAL FORM.
AT THE SAME TIME, THEY LEARNED
ALL OF THOSE SONGS.
WE DID NOT TURN MOVIES INTO FI
IT OUT WITH EVEN MORE MUSIC.
WHEN YOU SAT DOWN TO BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST IN THE VERY FIRST TIME
IN THE SPRING OF 1994, WHEN
BELLE STEPS OUT OF HER HOUSE AND
YOU HEARD THAT LITTLE RIF AND
SHE SINGS LITTLE TOWN IN THE
QUIET VILLAGE, YOUR HEART SOARS.
YOU KNOW BELLE, YOU KNOW HER
TOWN.
§ LITTLE TOWN IN THE QUIET
VILLAGE §
>> IN LION KING WHEN RAFIKI
STEPS OUT -- §
>> TO COME TOGETHER.
THAT RITUAL IS BUILT ON A PIECE
OF MUSIC WRITTEN BY ELTON JOHN.
>> I REMEMBER SITTING THERE, MY
WIFE, MYSELF AND MY CHILDREN.
ADULTS WHO ARE GOING BACK TO SEE
IT.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW, THESE
ARE NOT CHILDREN'S SHOWS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF ATTENDEES
ARE ADULTS AND CHILDREN ARE WITH
THEM.
MY WIFE AND I, ONE OF OUR BEST
BROADWAY EXPERIENCES EVER WITH
OUR CHILDREN AT NIGHT.
>> I THINK IT WAS ENJOYABLE TO
HAVE A SHOW THAT MAZE FOR THE
BROADEST AUDIENCE.
WHEN WE DID MARY POPPINS, IT WAS
AS RES NONANT WITH A KID, WHO M
NEVER HAVE EVEN SEEN THE JULIE
ANDREWS MOVIE.
>> AND ALL THE INTIMACY THAT
BRINGS IT TO YOU.
YOU AND I COULD TALK FOR HOURS
ABOUT THIS.
HOPEFULLY WE'LL GET YOU BACK
AGAIN.
CONGRATULATIONS TO 25 MARVELOUS
YEARS.
GREAT SUCCESS, GREAT
TRANSFORMATIONAL SUCCESS.
AND BRINGING JOY AND WARMTH AND
HUMOR AND GREAT EXPERIENCES TO A
LOT OF PEOPLE.
THANK YOU.
WE'LL TALK AGAIN SOON.
>> ALL RIGHT.
BE WELL.
A REMINDER, YOU CAN SEE ALADDIN,
FROZEN, AND LION KING ALL PREPLY
PLAYING

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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