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    Niles: ‘Rogers: The Musical’ shows the importance of live theater at Disneyland
    • July 4, 2023

    Live musical theater is back at Disney California Adventure, and I could not be happier.

    “Rogers: The Musical” opened in the park’s Hyperion Theater last week. The Hollywood Land facility had been dark since the pandemic, after Disneyland closed the “Frozen — Live at the Hyperion” production that had played there since 2016. “Rogers: The Musical” will run through Aug. 31.

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    After that, Disneyland has not announced what will happen in the theater. But I hope that it does not remain dark for long. Live theater provides an important draw for any theme park, and Disney should continue to set an example for the industry by supporting it in all of its theme parks.

    As for “Rogers,” the new musical surprised me. “Rogers: The Musical” is a punchline in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” where it first appeared. When Disneyland announced that it would bring an expanded, 30-minute version of the musical to the Hyperion, I worried that the park could not sustain a joke for that long. Disneyland’s reveal that the production would include a second satirical number, “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger,” along with “Save the City” from “Hawkeye,” did not help ease my concern that this would be a one-note show that left audiences cringing as much as laughing.

    Don’t worry. “Rogers: The Musical” triumphs. The production offers three exceptional original songs that help frame the show as a classic, heart-tugging Broadway romance. Led by director Jordan Peterson, the creative team has delivered a show that delivers the emotional mix that fans have come to expect from the best Marvel productions. Sure, fans will laugh at “Save the City,” and even more so when Nick Fury sings in a new number which leads up to that. But fans will cry and cheer, too.

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    Good word of mouth, along with the enduring popularity of the Captain America character, should help keep the nearly 2,000-seat theater filled multiple times daily for show’s limited run. When shows are running, the Hyperion Theater is a people-eater that helps improve wait times at other attractions throughout Disney California Adventure and Disneyland.

    But expanded resort capacity isn’t the only reason why Disneyland should keep the Hyperion running. Theme parks can, and should, use their popularity to help more fans discover and fall in love with theater. Live theater helps develop and sustain generations of actors, singers, writers, composers and designers — many of the creative artists that theme parks need to bring adventures to life for their fans.

    Street entertainment and character shows help create the magic in Disney’s parks, but there’s nothing like seeing a show in a big house like the Hyperion to help more fans discover why Broadway remains such a popular and enduring art form. Success drives imitation in entertainment, and I would love to see Disney do whatever it can to inspire the entire theme park industry to commission and support more large-scale, live professional theater for fans across the country and around the world.


    ​ Orange County Register