From “Aladdin” in Mexico City to “Frozen” in London to “The Lion King” in Tokyo — not to mention “Lion King” and “Aladdin” on Broadway — Disney Theatrical Productions is in the midst of opening nine new productions and restarting another 14 that were darkened by the pandemic. And they’re doing it all in a span of about seven months.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
It is, to put it mildly, a lot. But for the team at Disney, there was a clear logic behind doing it all at once.
“We could have spread it out much farther, but we made the decision that at the base of what we do is people,” said Anne Quart, senior vice president of production and co-producer at Disney Theatrical, on the new episode of Stagecraft. “We have actors and crew and musicians and designers who need to get back to work. We have to raise the entire ecosystem up from the ground. One particular show can’t be more or less important than the other. We have to raise it all up together. Otherwise we’re not going to have an industry.”
Quart appeared on Stagecraft alongside Thomas Schumacher, DTP’s producer and president, to talk about how they juggle timing, global travel, remote work and varying international COVID-19 restrictions in order to get these shows off the ground. “Everything has 500 steps it didn’t have before COVID,” Quart noted.
“Plus, each individual human within the system has their own feelings,” she added. “How they feel about the safety, how they feel about COVID, how they feel in the space. You have to make room for that too. So there’s a lot of factors.”
Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Quart and Schumacher discussed how Disney Theatrical is working toward equity and racial justice, following the reckoning that has taken hold over the last year in the theater industry and in the entertainment industry at large.
“We’re deep into this conversation, and that means a lifelong conversation,” Schumacher said of the company’s equity and accessibility initiatives. “When you dig into this topic, we weren’t really delivering on the promise we’d made to ourselves, and it’s been a call to step up.”
Looking ahead at the theater business, Schumacher admitted he had no idea what to expect from the immediate future — but he was very optimistic about the long-term prospects. “What will the world look like a year from now? I honestly don’t know,” he said. “But I’m very confident that in the long view, we will look back on this as a time of change. Some of it, very valuable change that will have made us much better and more vibrant.”
To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.