×

Disney Theatrical Eyeing Muppets On Stage (EXCLUSIVE)

Company began preliminary explorations with a presentation in New York

Disney Theatrical Prods. has quietly initiated early explorations of a live stage show featuring the Muppets, commencing late last month with a short but elaborate presentation directed by Alex Timbers.

SEE ALSO: Disney Eyes “Muppets” Sequel

The brief showcase, staged May 31 at Disney’s New Amsterdam Theater for a group of DTP staffers and a handful of others connected to the potential project, incorporated a handful of sets and more than 85 Muppets in an experiment intended to reveal whether it would even be feasible to present the Muppets in a live theatrical context, juggling puppetry needs with audience sightlines and all the other physical demands of legit theater.

SEE ALSO: “Muppets” Editor Sues Disney for Harassment

“It was a test of concept,” said Thomas Schumacher, producer and prexy of Disney Theatrical. With the focus on the tech requirements of such an endeavor, a short selection of pre-existing Muppet material was performed. (Yes, Kermit sang “Rainbow Connection.”)

Timbers, the busy director (“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” “Here Lies Love”) whose upcoming gigs include “The Last Goodbye” in San Diego and “Rocky” on Broadway, told Schumacher he had come up with a concept for a Muppets stage show while they collaborated on Peter Pan prequel “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the 2011 Off Broadway outing that went on to win five Tonys in its 2012 Rialto transfer.

Popular on Variety

Scheduling of the recent trial, which ran only 15 minutes, was timed to take place during a window of overlapping availability for Timbers, the New Amsterdam (currently dark in advance of the spring 2014 bow of “Aladdin”) and the actual band of puppets, following the filming of Disney’s “The Muppets… Again!,” on tap for a March release.

The Muppets presentation was one part of Disney Theatrical’s broad slate of development activities, with legit incarnations of “Shakespeare in Love” and “Father of the Bride,” plus a redux of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” among the titles that are far further along on the road to the stage.

It’s too early to say whether a project will develop out of the recent Muppets event. But according to attendees, the brief tryout seemed to go well, and a stage version of the Muppets seems a no-brainer given the high profile of the widely beloved Disney property.

For now, though, it’s just a possibility, if a promising one. “I’m very intrigued,” Schumacher said.

More Legit

  • Zoe Caldwell Dead

    Zoe Caldwell, Four-Time Tony Winner, Dies at 86

    Zoe Caldwell, an Australian actress with a talent for illuminating the human side of imposing icons such as Cleopatra and Maria Callas in a career that netted her four Tony Awards, died on Sunday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to her son Charlie Whitehead. She was 86. Caldwell occasionally appeared in television and [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band interview

    Listen: How 'Cambodian Rock Band' Became One of the Most Produced Plays in the U.S.

    One of the hottest trends in American theater this season is Cambodian surf rock from the 1970s — and that’s thanks to “Cambodian Rock Band.” Listen to this week’s Stagecraft podcast below: Playwright Lauren Yee’s genre-bending stage show, part family drama and part rock concert, has become one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. this season. [...]

  • Revenge Song

    Vampire Cowboys' 'Revenge Song': L.A. Theater Review

    There’s highbrow, there’s lowbrow, and then there’s however you might classify Vampire Cowboys, the anarchic New York City theater company whose diverse productions . It’s radical, “good taste”-flouting counter-programming for the vast swaths of the population left unserved by high-dollar, stiff-collar theater options. Vampire Cowboys’ raucous new show, “Revenge Song,” is unlike anything else that’s [...]

  • THE VISIT review

    'The Visit': Theater Review

    Director Jeremy Herrin’s extraordinary take on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play “The Visit” is less of a production and more of a show. A wordy one, to be sure, which is no surprise since it’s an adaptation by Tony Kushner that, including two intermissions, comes in at three-and-a-half hours. It’s never going to be described as [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme review

    'We Are Freestyle Love Supreme': Film Review

    For any Lin-Manuel Miranda fans whose hearts sank almost as quickly as they rose upon hearing that, yes, there’s a “Hamilton” movie, and no, it won’t be out for another 20 months, succor may be on the way in the form of a probably faster-arriving movie that features Miranda in almost as big a role, [...]

  • Unmasked review

    Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Unmasked': Theater Review

    It takes guts to admit you were wrong — especially when you have been so right, so often. Take composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose successes with  “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “School of Rock” have made him a musical-theater uber-Lord. Early on during [...]

  • Aaron Loeb

    James Ward Byrkit to Direct Aaron Loeb's Off-Broadway Adaptation 'Ideation' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Aaron Loeb’s darkly comic one-act play “Ideation” will be turned into a movie, Variety has learned. The Off-Broadway production centers on a group of corporate consultants who work together on a mysterious and ethically ambiguous project for the government. It premiered in 2016, and went on to become a New York Times Critic’s Pick during [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content