Hello & welcome back to A Look at Disney Opens The Toy Box. And after a two year hiatus, Â Screen To Stage returns. And I am so sorry that it had to return with this. In the past, Â Broadway has had a bad habit of adapting non-musical movies into stage musicals. Such examples include Ghost, Footloose, & Dirty Dancing. Â And while most of the Disney on Broadway productions are adaptions of musical movies, Disney has ventured into this territory before at Disney World and with another Pixar film as they gave us, Finding Nemo: The Musical. Â Which you may recall that I reviewed and spoke positively of.Â Â The biggest thing that Finding Nemo: The Musical had in it’s favor were it’s songwriters, Â Robert and Kristin-Anderson Lopez. Â If those names sound familiar, it’s because they wrote the music for Frozen. Â And even before they worked with Disney, Â they had a Broadway background. Â From the little information, Â I can find on the songwriters for this show, Â it doesn’t appear that they had any prior work Â writing for a stage musical. Â That explains why the songs are so bad. Â Now, this isn’t the first time that I have looked at this as years ago before Screen To Stage existed, I did a multi-part blog on Toy Story: The Musical but I always knew that if I were to do a Toy Story month, I’d have to return to this… thing and give it, the Screen To Stage treatment. Â Now, Â Screen To Stage was originally meant to be reviews of Disney stage productions that I’d seen in person. However, I did not actually see Toy Story: The Musical in person but seeing as it’s been uploaded onto YoutTube and I’ve now watched it twice for this blog, I think I can make an exception here. Â As a reminder, of what we go over on Screen To Stage, we look at What’s The Same, what did they keep from the movie, What’s Different, Â what changes were made. Â New Music, Â this is a look at songs that weren’t included in the original movie and because I want to get this over with, we are skipping reprises. And finally, My Final Thoughts. Â Which can be summed up like this…
Before we go any further, I need some insight into why they thought this was a good idea. Oh look, a Behind The Scenes video.
Yeah…. I’m still not getting why they thought turning Toy Story into a stage musical for the Disney Cruise line was a good idea other than it’s popularity and nostalgia factor. Â Toy Story is most definitely not the first Pixar movie, I would’ve picked to adapt into a musical. Â Now, that we’ve gotten this long-winded introduction outta the way, let’s begin.
What’s The Same
I will say in Toy Story: The Musical’s defense is that it’s a faithful adaption of the first Toy Story. Â It follows the story rather closely but this is also a hindrance because other than it being a musical, Â there is nothing new that is brought to this production. And that is a problem, especially considering that most of the musical is set in Andy’s Room.
And honestly for a musical that is a rather pedestrian setting. It is hard to get swept up in the story. Now yes, they do go to other locations such as Pizza Planet and Â Sid’s House but my point remains the same.Â Â There is no spectacle. Compare that to the other Pixar musical, Finding Nemo: The Musical, the setting is underwater. Â This allows the audience to have an easier time to get swept up in the setting.
And this also leads me to another problem I had with this production, the allure and majesty of seeing the toys come to life, when you know they are actors playing the toys is gone. I can’t explain why this is but I feel as though the magic is gone, when you see the faces of Woody and Buzz. Now yes, you need to see their faces, so you can see them emote but that comes at the price of them no longer feeling like toys. Â Now I know that the costumed characters Â that they use for the parks but wouldn’t have worked but Disney On Ice uses face characters for Toy Story and they’re just fine. Perhaps, it’s because they don’t speak.
That’s another thing, the dialogue that wasn’t lifted from the movie was BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Â Â
Not much other than the fact that it’s a musical is different. Â There are some slight omissions such as cutting out the characters of Mr. Speak ‘n’ Spell and Lenny but they were such minor characters that you don’t even notice that they’re no longer a part of the story. However, there are two bigger omissions that do not sit well with me at all. Â We all know that the most popular Toy Story song is “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” and the play opens with Andy singing that to Woody. And I do like that touch. Â It’s sweet and reminds me of Toy Story 2.
And yes before anyone asks that is a young lady playing Andy. Â Both Andy and Sid are played by women in this production and well, I’m fine with that because women are typically better at playing young boys. Â Getting back to what I was saying, there are two other songs in the first Toy Story that are rather important in terms of character development being Strange Things for Woody and I Will Go Sailing No More for Buzz. Â And both of these songs are replaced by songs of a lesser quality. Â And Buzz’s scene in the musical Â is butchered to death without it including I Will Go Sailing No More but he doesn’t suffer as much character assassination as Woody with his new song that replaces Strange Things. Â There were actually two other character omissions as both Andy’s baby sister, Molly and Sid’s younger sister, Hannah Â were cut from this stage production and this shouldn’t bug because they are never mentioned but they do draw attention to Hannah because Â there is a sequence with the mutant toys and Hannah’s doll with theÂ dinosaur head is onstage. Â It is Â just that one moment but it is jarring to say the least.
Oh boy, this is the part I’ve been dreading the most because I don’t like any of the songs in this show. Â They are not that good. Â Let’s not beat around the bush, they’re bad. Â Let’s get this over with.
That’s Why We’re Here
This first song isn’t a bad start. Â It’s cute and serviceable but it does go on for a little too long. And I am not the biggest fan of Bo Peep’s singing voice. Â It’s cute but forgettable. Â It’s Â perhaps the only song that doesn’t get under my skin.
To Infinity And Beyond
I do apologize about these songs being from different productions of the show but this is what I have to work with. Â Again, this song Â starts out okay but like the first song, it goes on a bit too long. Â And while I said that I wasn’t going to look a reprises, Â I do need to bring up the fact that a reprise of this song replaced I Will Go Sailing No More as it was played over the Buzz Lightyear commercial and that kinda cheapens that moment. Â And this song here is well, Buzz Â Lightyear of Star Command had a better theme song for Buzz, then this. Â It’s just so grating.
This…. THIS SONG CAN GO BUZZ OFF!!!!!!!!!!!! Â I hate this song so much. Â This is the song that replaced Strange Things and this is NOT a better song. It crosses a line, Â Strange Things conveyed Woody’s jealously and how he didn’t like the change that was occurring but this song makes Woody into a secondary antagonist. Â This song has used Woody’s jealously to turn him into a villain. This is a villain song and seeing as Woody is my favorite Toy Story character, I am ticked off at what this song does to my favorite character from this film. It pretty much misses the point of Woody’s arc in the first film.
Anyone else get a Queen vibe at the beginning of this song? Â This song is perhaps the most pointless song in the whole production because unlike the movie, Sid doesn’t get a toy alien. Â Now, granted, the Claw scene while funny in the movie is still a little pointless but it does lead somewhere unlike this number.
Make A Little Noise
Heh….. Yeah, Â I think this may be the worst song in the whole production. Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate One Toy the most but this song is just so annoying and it baffles me because we have Sid listing off some well known artists and well, Sid didn’t seem like the most well-read kid in the movie, Â so I am curious as to how he knows who Da Vinci and others are. Â The more Â I listen to this song, Â the more Â I want it to stop. Â It’s BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Â And it’s just so repetitive. Â This song gets old after the Â first two verses.
My Final Thoughts
Yeah, that sums up my feelings. Â Look, I’m not saying that a Toy Story Â musical couldn’t work but with the direction, they went here, it was a bad idea and doomed to fail from the get go. Â Is there anything good in this? No, not really! Â I think one of the biggest factors working against this is that unlike the upcoming Tangled musical that IS bringing back Alan Menken to write the new songs, no one there seemed to think to ask Randy Newman to write the new songs for this show. And I think that shows why the songs here are sub-par and the only good number is “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”. I honestly think if given the right songwriting team, Monsters. Inc or Brave would’ve worked better than Toy Story as a musical. Now granted, this debuted before Brave came out but my point still stands. Â Just because you can turn Toy Story into a musical, doesn’t mean you should have. Not every movie is going to work as a stage musical. And this is a clear example of that. Join me tomorrow as we wash away the taste of this… thing with a review of the film that started it all as I take a look at…