Staging a Comeback: Broadway, Hollywood, and the Disney Renaissance

Rutgers Univ. Sept. 2023. 222p. ISBN 9781978827813. pap. $29.95. FILM
To young audiences today, it may seem as though the Walt Disney Company has always been on top of the entertainment world, but Kunze (communication, Tulane Univ.; Taking a Stand) proves that’s not the case. The book focuses on the company’s history from 1982 to 1998, as it steadily achieved “one of the greatest second acts in the history of the U.S. entertainment industries.” Specifically, it was the influence of Broadway musicals on its highly successful animated features such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast that propelled Disney to its position as leader of the pack. The author exhaustively charts the connections between Broadway’s lyricists, composers, and the Disney team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who constructed the enormously successful legacy upon which today’s Disney musicals continue to be produced. At times, the book strays a bit from the plot with a nearly dizzying emphasis on minutiae, but the behind-the-scenes details shine a bright light on this period of Disney lore.
VERDICT Kunze paints a fascinating picture of how the Walt Disney Company has become an indelible part of the world.
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