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Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!, what’s new in the reimagined musical

a promo shot from Finding Nemo - The Musical. Features performers carrying puppets of the characters from Pixar's movies.

As Walt Disney World began to emerge from the difficult, but safety related, decision to cut back on live entertainment, we learned that one of the fan favorite shows, Finding Nemo – The Musical, will return but reimagined as Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

At a recent media event for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, we had the opportunity to talk with Katie Marks, a production manager for Disney Parks Live Entertainment, about the return of a Finding Nemo stage show to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We learned a lot about the new production, including what is new and what is returning from the original Finding Nemo – The Musical.

Both the original stage production and the new musical draw their inspiration from the hit animated Pixar movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory.” The first film won the Academy Award for best animated movie in 2003. While a third film in the franchise has been rumored, it has not yet materialized.

About the new Finding Nemo Musical

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! is a fully updated, 25-minute stage show, which is significantly shorter in length than the original musical.

It will still feature live performers and puppets, along with many favorite production numbers from the original Finding Nemo – The Musical, just retold from a different perspective.

That perspective is of the tankies, the residents of Dr. P. Sherman’s office, who are now at the Marine Life Institute from the second film, and are excited about their release day when they’ll be returned to the ocean.

Author's photo of the fish from Dr. P. Sherman's office fish tank from the original Finding Nemo musical

The show features new set pieces with a papercraft inspired look, and a large new LED video wall designed to visually extend the world created by the physical sets on stage – such as a 32-foot-long sunken submarine and a 15-foot-tall fish tank volcano.

Josh D’Amaro, Chair of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, recently shared this photo of the cast and crew of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! The performers and crew are currently in rehearsals for the new show in the Theater in the Wild.

Look in the background to see the giant new LED wall!

The assembled cast and crew of the new Finding Nemo musical on stage in the theater in the wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s live entertainment team has already made great use of LED video walls in their productions aboard Disney Cruise Line ships. With the larger space of the Theater in the Wild, they should be able to amplify the experience. I’m looking forward to that.

One of the things Katie said in the interview is that a lot of the former cast from the original production will be returning, along with the puppets. It’s good to hear that Disney has rehired some of the cast.

I’m also happy some of the original songs are returning. Composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and her husband, Robert Lopez, have written some of Disney’s catchiest tunes in the last 10 years.

From “In the Big Blue World,” to “Fish are friends, Not Food,” “Just Keep Swimming” and “Go With the Flow,” it’s hard to choose just one favorite. It’s not clear how many will be returning, although Katie said Big Blue World will be back. Let’s hope all our favorites make it back.

Now that we know Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! will inherit a lot of the DNA of the original musical, we are really looking forward to its opening date. That should be sometime this Summer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. No specific date has been announced.

Until then, let us know your favorite character and/or favorite song from Finding Nemo – The Musical in the comments below.

Previously: First Look at new Finding Nemo musical