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A Ranking Of Disney’s Broadway Shows From Worst To Best

Bringing Disney magic to the stage was a game-changer for musical theatre. With live adaptations raking in audiences from around the world, Disney on Broadway certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Beloved films such as “Frozen,” “Pinocchio,” “The Jungle Book” and “Alice in Wonderland” are slated to get their own stage lift in the coming years.

In the meantime, we’ve ranked Disney’s Broadway shows from worst (a relative term, since they’re all amazing) to best:

7. ‘Tarzan’

Fans of the memorable Phil Collins music gracing the 1999 movie will enjoy the nine new songs Collins created for the Broadway show. Though the musical version of “Tarzan” was fairly short-lived, it does stay true to the heart of the story. Unfortunately, many critics weren’t sure what to make of the show’s pop-inspired tunes, putting it at the top of our list.

6. ‘The Little Mermaid’

A Ranking of Disney Broadway Shows From Worst to Best

How do you pluck a cast of characters from under the sea and place them on a Broadway stage? With roller skates, of course! Okay, so “The Little Mermaid” doesn’t actually use skates, but the performers do wear Heely-inspired kicks.

With a slew of new songs accompanying the traditional Alan Menken tunes and some Tony nominations in its back pocket, this musical seemed to be either loved or loathed by audiences and critics. Disney’s 2007 production still did quite well and brought a splash of magic to those who fell in love with the classic movie.

5. ‘Aladdin’

A Ranking of Disney Broadway Shows From Worst to Best

The debut of “Aladdin” brought this story to life through a whole new world: musical theatre. The show’s hilariously charming Genie, gruesome villain, timeless romance and a rags-to-riches story translate well to the stage. As a relatively new addition to the Disney on Broadway family, “Aladdin” debuted in New York City in 2014 and received mixed reviews.

Though this show might not touch the iconic film version, it’s still a great experience for families who want to escape into Agrabah.

4. ‘Mary Poppins’

Though the Broadway musical, written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes, takes most of its inspiration from the original novel, it certainly serves up a spoonful of sugar reminiscent of the Julie Andrews movie.

Nothing can compare to seeing Mary soar through the theatre with her umbrella or watching Bert and his fellow chimney sweeps stepping in time as they tap dance up the walls. It’s apparent that that a live adaptation of Disney’s magical nanny is “practically perfect in every way.”

3. ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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This tale as old as time was brought to life in 1993 when creatives bravely morphed the adored movie into Broadway material. It’s hard to beat lavish dance numbers performed by dancing silverware or a mystified castle in the middle of the woods. The story’s charm, along with its notable music, quickly made this one a fan-favorite.

After sweeping the Great White Way and making its way around the world, “Beauty and the Beast” has proven to be one of Broadway’s best.

2. ‘Newsies’

The 1992 movie may not be Disney’s most well-known or popular, but the stage version has cultivated quite the following. The story chronicles the Newsboys’ strike of 1899 and includes some of the best choreography in all of Broadway history.

We’re guessing the show’s enormous popularity comes from having all the makings of good theatre: a protagonist we want to root for, spectacular music, a pinch of romance and dance numbers that take inspiration from tap, ballet, jazz and modern. “Newsies” continues to successfully seize the day!

1. ‘The Lion King’

Prior to the mid-’90s, the world hardly expected Disney’s animated feature about a royal lion to translate so well to the stage. During its reign for the past few decades, “The Lion King” has become a theatrical sensation, surpassing “The Phantom of the Opera” in box office earnings.

Looking back, it’s unsurprising that the music of Elton John and Tim Rice, paired with a plot with Shakespearean roots, could be anything other than made for Broadway. Astounding choreography, unique puppetry, elaborate costumes and a heartwarming story make certain that “The Lion King” will stand the test of time. For that, this beloved musical ranks at the top of our list.

Do you have a favorite Disney production gracing the Broadway stage? Share in the comments below…

Written by Kailey Hansen

Kailey received her B.A. in English, studied Shakespeare in London and interned at an opera house.

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  1. What about Hunchback of Notre Dame!? Sure, it never made it to Broadway and had a short run. But, it has some of the most beautiful music Menken has written. Plus the story is dark and compelling, very gutsy for a Disney musical!

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