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New book explores how the Disney way changed Broadway musicals forever

Amy Osatinski has written the most well-researched and sourced history of Disney Theatrical Productions that all fans of Disney musicals will want to get their hands on. “Disney Theatrical Productions: Producing Broadway Musicals the Disney Way” is the first major work of scholarship to examine the history and production practices of Disney Theatrical Productions (DTP), the theatrical producing arm of the studio branch of the Walt Disney Corporation in such an in depth way.

As Osatinski declares in stating the purpose of her book, although scholars “who have criticized Disney Theatrical Productions in the past were and are not wrong, it is time that attention is paid to the impact that DTP has had on Times Square and the American musical, both domestically and internationally.”

Starting with “Beauty and the Beast,” at the time the most expensive production to ever hit Broadway, up through “Newsies: The Musical” and “Aladdin,” the book dives deep into Disney’s stage productions, the measure of success or failure, and their impact on the art. The book doesn’t avoid DTP’s collaborations with other producers either, including “Mary Poppins,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Although three major productions definitely receive the lion’s share of attention.

Osatinski, who teaches theater at the University of Northern Iowa, is mostly targeting students in Musical Theatre, History of Musical Theatre, Theatre History, and Arts Management courses, but general Disney enthusiasts and lovers of the modern musical era will enjoy the book too. The book is also wonderfully footnoted providing off-ramps to numerous roads to go down if you want to learn more from the source materials.

Today Disney musicals play a large role in attracting the next generation of musical fans. Once exposed to the artform, they are free to explore its entire history, width and breadth. Reading “Disney Theatrical Productions: Producing Broadway Musicals the Disney Way” helped me understand my passion for the artform in a much more encompassing way.