Transcript for The 25-year evolution of Disney on Broadway
Reporter: To making a royal entrance. ��� ��� Reporter: Even turning a theater into the African Disney has brought some of its most majestic stories to life on a stage. Now nine musicals, one play and 20 Tony awards later, Disney on Broadway is celebrating 25 years on the great white way. To mark the occasion, "Nightline" was invited on an exclusive tour to see the show the way the audience never gets to see it. Tonight we're going to do something we've never done. We're going to go to all three Broadway shows on the same we're here at the first one, "The lion king". Let's check it out. How long does it take you every night? 50 minutes for the makeup. Reporter: They're getting ready for the first scene here, the circle of life. ��� ��� Reporter: 10 year old me never thought I would be back stage at the "Lion king". We just finished at the "Lion king." Now we're heading into "Frozen" to see "Let it go." ��� Let it go ��� ��� let it go ��� Singing "Let it go" in our production is like a duet with the audience. I feel the energy. ��� ��� Reporter: Our final stop, "Aladdin." We've got less than ten minutes to get there. Let's go! This is prince Ali, is that what we're going to see? Yes. Reporter: The curtain's going ��� ��� ��� ��� Reporter: They're running off stage, getting changed and running back out there. It's unbelievable. ��� ��� Reporter: Every detail is overseen by Thomas Schumacher, the president and producer of Disney theatrical productions. You're not looking at the animated film but the story that inspired that animated film. Sure, because of course the vast majority of the animated films made by this company would not make a good stage show. You have to look at what is the element inside of it. And sometimes that's elusive. Reporter: Disney theatrical productions which is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC news currently has 21 Disney stage productions in nine countries worldwide. What is it that makes a good stage play, a good stage musical? I wish I had an easy answer, because you search. But for example on "Aladdin." The animated movie is absolute cinema. And the stage version is absolute theater. But what they share is the source material. They share the extraordinary music behind it. Reporter: The challenge is bringing these animated characters to life on stage. When I feel anxiety, I try to remind myself that everybody out there knows the words to the song because they love the song. Reporter: And the ensemble of the tony-winning "Lion king", groundbreaking for puppetry. The pressure in performing these songs that everybody knows, what's that pressure like? It's fortunate that we have people who are supporting us who make sure we are always ourselves within the character. Because we cannot fit into a template of whatever person knows the character is. ��� ��� Reporter: Perhaps no Disney character is as outrageous as robin Williams' genie. You're coming out here and bringing a whole new kind of genie. I never even thought that I would be the genie. Of course I immediately start thinking about robin Williams, but Disney has allowed us to bring us, you know, they supported me to let me bring the thing that I do to the role, like all the Gene Kelly and Fred astaire. There's also some Beyonce thrown in. Reporter: I saw that. There's some Patti Labelle . There's some Whitney. We have one, two, three, four, five genies. Reporter: The five men donning that blue on the anniversary, topping off their performance with the ultimate showstopper, "Friend like me". ��� ��� It is a beast of a number. You really have to learn how to pace yourself. Reporter: The genie is more than a part. It's the role of a lifetime. To be in theater and be a large black man and for there to be a space for us there's just. There are not many roles right now that can give you a full resume in one performance. Exactly. Reporter: And they hope their performance inspires others like them. I saw my first show here. Saw the "Lion king " at the age of 10. I know what seat I was sitting in, the ninth row. Every time I do the show here, I give an a little extra love to the person in that seat. To see that little round, brown kid in the audience and knowing I was him when I was little looking for someone that looked like me is the best feeling in the world. Reporter: Disney on Broadway has come a where it started 25 years ago. Nay sayers doubted they could succeed on stage. But with "Beauty and the beast", they were saying these aren't Broadway people. Much of the artistry of it, putting it together and the business of it was not nearly as respected as is it today. Reporter: For all the success of the films, not all shows have been hits, like "Tarzan" and "The little mermaid". They didn't deliver on what my expectations were. And that's hard. That's my responsibility. Learn from those mistakes. I have no regret about it. Because I think we were trying a big idea. Reporter: As Disney looks to the future, that tale has come all the way back to Broadway. You can't keep a secret. Because you know how many people it takes to work on a show? I'm not announcing location or but I'm deep in it. It's happening. Reporter: Susan Eagan was Broadway's first belle. And to know you were the first princess. Isn't that nutty? It feels like somebody else. A chapter so long ago. Reporter: On this night, Eagan is taking the stage to celebrate the show's first anniversary with the song that started it all 25 years ago. ��� Rising in the east ���
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