I’ve never bought into all the Disney hype. Beauty and the Beast has a great score and a poignant tale to tell, but buried under a penny arcade of production blitz. After a long and hugely successful run, it bows out in July ... The critically acclaimed Lion King works okay, I guess, energized or enervated (whichever you prefer) with serviceably pedestrian songs composed by an international panel of musicians engaged to assure wide cultural diversify. Boring. King was obviously designed for the world market, and its touring productions are making millions ... Aida, Disney’s third entry on the Great White Way, is just plain awful, a limping turkey bearing a few sparkly things (a few decent Elton John tunes, some funky dances and those distracting costumes). It lasted four amazing years ... Then came Disney’s fourth attempt to fool the masses, a brainless spectacle (I did not see) called Tarzan. Even the Disney promo machine could not overcome scathing reviews and no Tonys. And after only a year on Broadway, Tarzan is now about to be off Broadway. Must have lost millions; they won’t say how much — I’d guess 6 to 8.
No producer can bat a thousand, although for a while Disney looked supernaturally adept at defying the odds. Broadway king David Merrick ran out of David Merrickles. Brit impresario Cameron Mackintosh hasn’t dazzled Gotham since, was it last century’s Miss Saigon? (Desperate for a comeback, the fiercely independent Mackintosh teamed up with Disney to mount the current hit Marry Poppins.) Aida fooled Disney into thinking that whatever it does, its fans will come. Tarzan proved otherwise ... Now that Mickey Mouse is down, time to ask, is there a Merrick in the house?