What Makes a Monster and What Makes a Man: Uncovering the Key to Disney Theatrical Productions’s Success in Transferring Animated Films to Broadway

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Aubrey Zurhellen
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis explores the critical and commercial success of Disney Theatrical Productions on Broadway. Specifically, the six stage adaptations of animated films on Broadway are examined in order to find the key points of success. Extensive research from critic reviews, academic journals, scripts, and financial reports have shaped this thesis. With all of this information, I was able to determine that Disney Theatrical Productions’s success is found through the inclusion of nostalgic elements to support beloved, timeless stories; contextually-motivated spectacle with substance; strong concepts with unified creative teams; and involvement of the audience in the narrative in order to best appeal to two separate, important target audiences and to prove artistically innovative enough for critical approval. KEYWORDS: Disney Theatrical Productions; Disney; Theatre; Spectacle; Theatrical Design; Beauty and the Beast; The Lion King; Tarzan; The Little Mermaid; Aladdin; Frozen; Theatre for Young Audiences