Disney Theatricals has done its fair share of musicals based on animated and live-action classics. From my beloved Mary Poppins to Aladdin, High School Musical to The Lion King. Many Disney fans also know that on Broadway, Disney owns the New Amsterdam Theater, originally home to the Ziegfeld Follies, and after a huge refurbishment in the 90’s, is now home to Aladdin. However, did you know that Disney’s first production in the New Amsterdam Theater wasn’t even a production, but a concert? Not only a concert, but one not based on any Disney property either…say what now?!
King David opened for a 9 performance limited run in 1997 in the New Amsterdam Theater. This modern oratorio (or large opera-like musical, featuring a choir, large orchestra and soloists) was written by Tim Rice and Alan Menken. This is all very weird and unusual, I realize. I had the same reaction when I first found out about this.
This musical was originally supposed to be performed outside in honor of the 3000th anniversary of Jerusalem. After they realized that was not going to happen, Disney took interest, reworked it into more of a concert setting. This mostly-sung through piece is based using only biblical tales from the Books of Samuel, 1 Chronicles and David’s Psalms.
The original show is not very known about since it had such a short time on Broadway. Starring Judy Kuhn (singing voice of Pocahontas) and Alice Ripley (the other Siamese twin) among a gaggle of others, its musical power is ever present. You can tell that this was meant to be performed for a large event and to celebrate the city, as their voices on the recording soar and the orchestrations are incredible and stunning.
Speaking of the recording, let’s talk about that for a second. I fell upon this show after the D23 Broadway and Beyond presentation from 2013. 3 songs were performed and were quite beautiful, so I decided to look more into it. I found the entire thing on YouTube, which I have enjoyed numerous a time. However, the show is not available digitally (which is disgusting), so I went to look for a used copy. Since the show had such a short run and the album was only printed in limited qualities, prices are crazy. A used copy goes for, at the least, $40. It is crazy! You must take a listen to the full album below though, as lots of genres’ influences are featured and it is an all-around great album.
I hope someday to see a live production of this concert and, who knows, maybe they will turn this into a full-fledged musical. I would SO get behind that. The moral of the story: Disney Theatricals is a division will many sides, all of them pretty great.
(Picture from AlanMenken.com)