It will be the quintessential example of life imitating art, but we have learned that Disney Theatrical may have intentions of bringing the Muppets to the theater with possible Broadway and national tour.
It was the third Muppet film, Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), in which Kermit the Frog wrote a musical titled ‘Manhattan Melodies’ and gained aspirations to bringing it to the Great White Way. Hilarity ensued and so did the Muppet Babies.
The speculative news comes once more via secretive domain name registrations. Amongst several new registrations are THEMUPPETSONBROADWAY.COM and THEMUPPETSONTOUR.COM. Although there is nothing in the actual registrations to tie them directly to Disney, we have reasons strong enough to report them as likely being legitimate.
The real question is just how Disney Theatrical plans on bringing The Muppets to stage, particularly Broadway, without cheapening (in a non-Muppety way) the experience. While puppets commanding the stage isn’t unprecedented (take ‘Avenue Q’ for example), it’d be difficult to replace any of the core puppeteers who are identified with each character with others. Unlike ‘Avenue Q,’ the Muppets also tend to keep the puppeteers hidden when performing, so while track is possible, it will ultimately cheapen the experience and takes out the potential bonus of improv. What could happen is a limited run with performances by the actual talent, coupled with a small national tour, but it would be hard to expect much more than that.
Other possible titles being worked on for the stage by Disney Theatrical include 101 Dalmatians (101dalmatiansonbroadway.com and 101dalmatiansontour.com), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (bedknobsandbroomsticksonbroadway.com, bedknobsandbroomsticksontour.com, bedknobsandbroomsticksthemusical.com) and Pinocchio (pinocchioonbroadway.com and pinocchioontour.com). Similar registrations were also made for ‘Bell, Book and Candle,’ which has been staged before and does not appear to belong to Disney Theatrical, but is now apparently being worked into a musical version which could simply be a licensed project not yet announced (bellbookandcandleonbroadway.com, bellbookandcandleontour.com, bellbookandcandlethemusical.com).
This is a follow-up to our initial report we provided two years ago which listed lots of potential projects for Disney Theatrical based on its films, many of which were either known to be in development or later announced as such.