×

Musical Theater Composers Bring Show-Tune Depth to Disney Junior’s ‘Vampirina’

It’s no secret that Disney uses lots of music in its projects, and its TV series are no exception. But new Disney Junior animated show “Vampirina” is more steeped in musical theater than most, thanks to the work of composers Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond.

Kooman and Dimond are behind several successful stage musicals, including their latest production, “Romantics Anonymous,” which just completed its run at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. “Vampirina” is their first TV project.

The animated series, from “Doc McStuffins” creator Chris Nee, is based on the “Vampirina Ballerina” books by Anne Marie Pace and tells the story of a vampire girl who relocates with her family from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.

The half hours contain two 15-minute segments, with each one featuring a song. In the course of the first season, Kooman and Dimond have written 50 songs — quite a change of pace for writers used to spending years honing a stage musical.

“It’s a challenge that has really pushed us as songwriters and gotten us to be better writers, more thoughtful and conscious of what we’re doing,” explains Dimond, the team’s lyricist. “When you’re writing a song for theater, at a certain point you have to start to think how this is going to be physically staged in front of a live audience, and that involves a number of limitations. In animation, you can do almost anything.”

The long (25-episode) TV season has given the composers a chance to work with the voice actors over an extended period. The series features Isabella Crovetti as young Vampirina, with Lauren Graham and James Van Der Beek as her parents. It also stars a couple of actors who are no strangers to Broadway: Tony winners Patti LuPone and Brian Stokes Mitchell as Vampirina’s grandparents.

“Getting to know their voices allows us to know their quirks — what their range is,” explains Kooman, who adds that he can pick an actor’s best note. “If I have a high note for Lauren Graham. I know it’s going to be an A.”

In addition to LuPone and Mitchell, others with Broadway backgrounds have guested on the show, including Andrew Rannells, who played an Egyptian mummy, and Christian Borle, who will be guesting in a segment set to air on March 16 on Disney Channel.

Collaborating with Kooman and Dimond has been a treat for exec producer Nee. “To work with a team as talented as these guys are is one of the things I love about this process,” she says. “We basically write the scripts around the songs.”

In fact, the first two demo tunes for “Vampirina” were used in the opening segments. “The second we heard what these guys did in the demo, it was like, ‘That’s it!’” says Nee. “It was one of the shortest audition processes ever.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • BLUFF CITY LAW -- "Pilot" Episode

    TV Review: 'Bluff City Law'

    As a legal procedural emanating from outside the imaginings of Dick Wolf, “Bluff City Law” at least represents something novel for NBC. But its understanding of the workings of the legal profession is frustratingly limited in a familiar way — not merely because it falls so nearly into timeworn cliché but also because it seems [...]

  • Kit Harington, Sophie Turner. Kit Harington,

    Emmys 2019: What You Didn't See on TV

    Viewers who tuned into the Emmys on Sunday night saw the “Game of Thrones” cast reunite for the first time since the epic finale, and caught Adam DeVine’s head-scratching musical number. They also saw the stars of “Veep” rally once more, and witnessed the magic that is Billy Porter’s awards show fashion. But there’s a ton [...]

  • David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Carolyn

    Emmys 2019: 'Game of Thrones,' Jharrel Jerome Top Social-Media Buzz

    HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Jharrel Jerome, star of Netflix’s “When They See Us,” led the social conversation during Sunday’s 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Facebook and Twitter. “GOT” picked up 12 Emmys in total for its final season, including outstanding drama series, while series star Peter Dinklage picked up his fourth trophy for supporting [...]

  • The Politician - Ben Platt

    TV Review: Netflix's 'The Politician' Starring Ben Platt

    If you tried to drink every time someone on “The Politician” says “ambition,” you wouldn’t get through a single episode alive. For the steel-jawed characters of “The Politician,” and especially its ostensible hero Payton (executive producer Ben Platt), ambition is the urgent undercurrent of just about every scene, revealing a desperate intensity that never lets [...]

  • David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Carolyn

    TV Ratings: Emmy Awards Hit New Low

    Sunday night’s hostless Emmys on Fox was likely hoping to emulate the Oscars ratings success in cutting out an emcee. However, according to preliminary Nielsen figures, the 2019 Emmys have gone the way of seemingly all awards shows in declining year on year. Fox’s broadcast posted a 5.7 rating and a 10 share in the [...]

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the audience at

    Emmys: Britain’s Got Talent, and the U.S. Has Got Money

    Brits registered a huge night at the Emmys, with involvement in 13 of the 27 awards given out Sunday night. But scratch the surface, and the strong trans-Atlantic links for the U.K. successes become clear. Yes, Britain’s got talent, but the U.S. has the cash to help bankroll it. Take big winner “Fleabag,” which scooped [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Sets First Book-Club Pick for New Apple TV Plus Series

    Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with authors of her book club selections will be featured exclusively on Apple’s forthcoming Apple TV Plus service, and she’s announced the first book selection for the project: “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Apple teamed with Winfrey for Apple TV Plus series “Oprah’s Book Club,” premiering Nov. 1 when the service [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content