There are likely a branches of the Disney media empire I’m not too big a fan of, perhaps the one that is the most confounding to me is the line of altered-for-younger-audiences musicals like Aladdin Jr., The Little Mermaid, Jr. and the like. Part of what I really don’t get is that content-wise there’s usually not much removed and simplified for younger audiences. If anything it seems to be just about managing expectations.
Now I fully recognize that the acquisition of rights, and staging could be more affordable. The musical tracks provided may well be simplified to be easier for young vocalists to learn. Having said all that the addition of the word “Junior” seems to add the connotations that a) it’s not the real thing and b) you ought to lower your expectations.
Now, I will hand it to them for allowing schools flexibility with things like the One-Act edition of High School Musical and things of that nature, which can allow those crunched for time and funds to more easily stage something accessible. While that is a much different creature than a slightly-truncated stage version of an animated classic, it’s still a less-than-ideal translation of all the intended elements of a story.
And, one might argue, rightly so, that High School Musical‘s heyday of cultural relevance has come and gone. Which brings me to my actual suggestion of a stage adaptation of something so far out of consciousness it my seem new, that and it wouldn’t be an edited version at all.
Even Stevens was one the first break-out hits Disney Channel had. It was one of the first that got me watching even though I was not the demographic any longer. Independent of the recent antics of Shia Labeouf, the show remains, as it ever has been quite funny, and in perhaps its most memorable episode it featured a musical episode that was Ren’s (Christy Carlson Romano) fever dream called “Influenza: The Musical.”
Being a half-hour (read: 23 minutes) sitcom it’s a perfect one act length that you needn’t cut. The setting is school, it relates to kids and has memorable songs.
While its still up, you can view it here, and that brings me to the last point: in an age becoming ever more digital Disney’s vaulting, and at times squatting on its own titles; burrowing them away,
not seeking to invest any more in them just makes no sense. Either downloads or disc-on-demand services would make sense for so many Disney titles; and making this a stage musical would be quite the easy feat.