Some people love musicals and some love cartoons. And then there are some of us who love both. So, when the two worlds collide into cartoon based musicals, there are some of us who get ecstatic.
Here are some instances where cartoons were made into musicals.
Originally known as a comic strip titled Little Orphan Annie, this first musical has been produced and reproduced on stage and film several times. The comic was created by Harold Gray and the score for the musical was written by Charles Strouse. Martin Charnin wrote the lyrics and a book created by Thomas Meehan.
Opening in 1977, Annie continued a run that lasted more than five years. This was a record length at the Neil Simon Theatre, which was the Alvin Theatre at the time. It won that year’s Tony Award for Best Musical and has to be staged for multiple tours.
It follows the tale of an orphaned girl named Annie who is adopted a rich man, Daddy Warbucks. The musical tells the tale of how that came about. “It’s the Hard Knock Life” has even been sampled by Jay-Z for his Hip Hop hit with a similar name.
The Annie national tour is still on its way! Check out here for more information.
2. The Lion King
This story was originally a Disney movie, where a young lion cub finds himself far away from home after his father is murdered by an enemy to take over the throne. Even though the young lion cub is destined to be King of the Jungle, he avoids returning until he realizes it’s too late his fate awaits him back home. Elton John wrote the score to lyrics by Tim Rice for the successful musical version of this story that was originally a cartoon.
First shown in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Lion King debuted in 1997 at the Orpheum Theatre. It moved to Broadway in Fall of that same year premiering on October 25th at the New Amsterdam Theater. This musical is still in production at the Minskoff Theatre, where it moved in 2006.
In 1998 it won nine Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Set Design and Outstanding Costume Design. While it was nominated for many Tonys that same year it was also the set and costume designs that would take home the trophies. This musical is unique in its use of puppetry and is a delight for children and adults.
Take a look at their website for more information and show schedule!
3. The SpongeBob Musical
There are very few people, especially those with children, who don’t know who SpongeBob SquarePants is. Based on the television show that originally aired on Nickelodeon this musical inspired by a cartoon opened on June 7, 2016, at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. It only ran a month and is booked to open on Broadway next year.
WGN-TV’s Dean Richards praised the musical saying that it’s a show that will entertain both children and their parents. Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the creativity behind the set designs but called them extravagant as well. Reviews seemed to be mixed.
Here’s an interview with the Director of the musical Tina Landau:
4. Shrek The Musical
It seems to be a trend to turn every movie or story into a musical lately and DreamWorks’ Shrek isn’t any different. Based on the book by the same name this musical made its debut in Seattle. It quickly moved to Broadway in December of 2008 and ran a little more than a year.
From there, this story of an ogre and his love moved on to tour the United States and eventually premiered on London’s West End in 2011. The music and rights for this musical have been released for use and this spread on an international level. There have been reproductions of the beloved children’s tale in locations like Italy, Germany, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Spain, Poland, and Asia.
5. Beauty and the Beast
Similar to the last musical, this is a timeless tale of a beast who falls in love with a beautiful woman, and she loves him. Yet, unlike Shrek, in this story, when the fair maiden realizes she loves the Beast, she breaks the spell that made him a beast in the first place and he returns to his original state as a handsome prince.
Alan Menken composed the score while Howard Ashman and Tim Rice penned the lyrics. Linda Woolverton wrote the book, which they based on the animated film by Walt Disney Pictures released in 1991. The original story is of French origin and was first told in print by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.
On April 18, 1994, Beauty and the Beast premiered at the Palace Theatre on Broadway and ran for more than a year at that location. It was then moved in November of 1999 to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and ran until the summer of 2007. This production had a run of nearly 5,500 shows including previews.
6. The Addams Family
Single panel gag cartoons were the first medium that introduced the world to The Addams Family. Charles Addams was the genius who created Morticia, Gomez, Lurch, Wednesday, Pugsley, It, and Hand. There have been adaptations in many mediums including television and film.
The creators of the musical focused primarily on the cartoon strip for their work and tried to ignore the adaptations that were made for film and television. It was tested in Chicago and then quickly opened on Broadway in April of 2010 with Nathan Lane starring as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. It ran for twenty months before closing in December of 2011.
Five years later this cartoon inspired musical is scheduled to premiere in Edinburgh, UK at the Festival Theatre in 2017. It was nominated for two Tony Awards but didn’t win either. Reviews were mixed but that didn’t stop crowds from buying tickets.
Here’s the website to The Addams Family production, with runs across the United States and fixed shows in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.
7. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Bono and The Edge, members of Irish rock super group U2, wrote the music and lyrics for this unique musical. David Campbell worked on the arrangements and Julie Taymor, Glen Berger, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa wrote the book. The inspiration for this superhero musical came from the original comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, first published by Marvel Comics.
The plot follows Spidey’s love for Mary Jane and his rival the Green Goblin. Unfortunately, the set designs and productions the creators had imagined proved to be difficult to produce. There were technical problems and performers were injured on set. At the premiere, there were disruptions, which caused the reviews to be negative.
After the show officially opened in 2011, the response from the critics were still mixed but more positive than after the previews. This musical is the costliest Broadway production ever but also held the top slot on record box office sales after pulling in nearly three million dollars.
In 2012 Spider-Man was nominated for two Tony Awards, one Drama Desk Award, and five Outer Critics Circle Awards winning two of the latter for Outstanding Set Design and Outstanding Costume Design.
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