Why Disney never wishes upon a Star.

About a month ago, I did an article that got a lot of views about Disney Theatrical’s out-of-town tryout strategy.  And a few months before that, I did another one about their new customer service ticket exchange policy.

Since I’m not one to break the rule of threes-threes-threes, I thought it was time I did another one, this one inspired by the recent 100% sold first few previews of Aladdin.   

I was in high school when Aladdin hit the big screen, and I remember every dark-haired-wanna-be-Broadway-star (including this guy) dreamed about flying on that carpet one day if the show ever made it to the Great White Way.

So naturally, when the Broadway show was announced a couple of decades later, this dark haired (now peppered with some grey) guy was curious as to who would play the lucky “street rat” who meets a princess and a genie . . .  all in the same day!

And that actor is . . . Adam Jacobs!

You don’t know Adam?  Well, that’s ok, not a lot of people do.  I happen to know him, having seen him in a bunch of stuff, and I’m a super-sized fan.  But let’s face it, Adam doesn’t fall under the definition of a “bona fide star” (that’s the lawyer-y phrase used in a lot of Broadway contracts), as I’m sure he’d agree.

The lovely Jasmine, played by the fantastic Courtney Reed, isn’t a BFS either . . . yet.

No one in the cast really qualifies (although how awesome to have creepy-voiced Jonathan Freeman reprising his role from the movie twenty years later).

A quick look through the Disney catalog of Broadway musicals will find a similar casting trend in every single one of their shows . . .

Sure they’ve had some Broadway names, like Adam Pascal and Sherie Rene Scott and Terrence Mann . . . but no big ol’, mainstream-audience attracting stars when they open new shows.

They know the stats as well as you and I do (and if you forget, take a look at this blog) – the longest running musicals of all time didn’t open with a star.  The shows are the stars.

Now yes, Disney gets a little help from having super-human sized brands that make me drool at the mouth with envy, but still, they know to focus on the content, not a celebrity’s Q-score.

The epilogue of this story is that when you focus on getting the best actor you can instead of casting a star, you can end up making a star instead.

And isn’t that much more exciting?

I bet Adam and Courtney think so.  And I bet you’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – –


– Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar this Saturday. Just one spot left!  Click here to register.

– Need a writing partner?  Click here to sign up for our Collaborator Speed Date!

– First ever Producing 101 Tele-Seminar!  You can participate no matter where you are in the world!  Learn more.

– Win two tickets to Beautiful on Broadway!  Click here.

  • Tyler says:

    Don’t forget about James Monroe Igleheart (Memphis)! After all, every Tom, Dick and Harry remember the name of the actor that played Genie in the movie, but who played Aladdin again?

  • Tom Hartman says:

    I’m curious as to how many BFS’s got their start in a Disney show or achieved BFS through playing a lead in a Disney show.

  • Try mounting big musicals like Disney does without stars. I’m sure it will be a cinch to raise all the money you’d need.

    Disney is a special case, and as such, is not the blueprint most producers can follow.

  • Gary says:

    Love Disney for that! In the old days it was always about someone becoming a star from a wonderful role on broadway. Great talent in a wonderful role is always better than casting a star that has no right being in that show!

  • Kerry says:

    In Disney’s case, the show (based on the success of the movie it is based on) is the star!

  • Benjamin, Brianna and Marsha Harding says:

    Can’t imagine a better Aladdin!!! Way to Go – Adam/Zorro/Simba/Marius/Etc!!!

  • I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  • whole of the UK but of course most of our work is in London .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *