ABC Gets Into The Live Musical Game With Disney-Themed TV Musical

ABC is developing a live musical for television. On the heels of NBC’s The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz and Fox’s highly successful Grease: Live, ABC finally has a live musical in development, according to Entertainment Weekly.

ABC president Channing Dungey was tight-lipped regarding the details of the alphabet network’s long-awaited dive into the TV musical pool, but she told reporters in a press call ahead of the network’s upfront presentations that ABC’s entry is currently “in development.”

While Dungey didn’t name the musical that the network is eyeing, the ABC boss did drop the news that the live musical production that will eventually be produced will be one that “speaks to the heart of who we are at ABC as part of the Disney family.”

“We’ve definitely been in those conversations and we have some things we’re currently in development on,” Dungey said. “This is a space that’s already become very crowded. When we make our play in that space, we really want to make sure it’s the right project for us to be doing and one that really speaks to the heart of who we are at ABC and as a part of the Disney family.”

That’s a pretty big clue that ABC’s live musical will take its sheet music from one of Disney’s many iconic stories that have been turned into stage musicals. Some of the most successful Disney musicals include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Newsies, and The Little Mermaid. And then there’s a little musical called Frozen.

With live-action feature film versions of Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins already in the works, it’s unlikely that ABC-Disney would go that route for the live TV musical. But Newsies, The Lion King, and Aladdin are currently long-running Broadway hits, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of them as ABC’s final choice. A few years ago, ABC even embraced Newsies when stars from the hit New York stage musical made a cameo on Dancing With the Stars.

In recent years, live TV musicals have been big business, with NBC first stepping into the forum with the Carrie Underwood-led The Sound of Music in 2013. But decades before Carrie spread her wings in that landmark TV musical, Peter Pan flew live on NBC in a major television event 60 years ago. The Peter Pan TV musical first aired live on NBC with stage star Mary Martin in 1956, and it made history as one of the most-watched TV events of the time. It went on to become an annual event for several years.

Fast forward to today and ABC is not totally behind the competition when it comes to TV musicals. According to Broadway World, the network will air a musical remake of the iconic ’80s film Dirty Dancing later this year, although that musical will be filmed ahead of time. And ABC’s musical comedy Galavant was a cult favorite for two seasons despite its recent cancellation. Still, all eyes will surely be on the ABC’s first official live TV musical event, and as soon as the title is announced, fans will begin making their casting wish lists.

As for ABC’s competition in the TV musical genre, NBC has already announced its next live musical will be Hairspray while Fox is going for a pre-recorded version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Take a look at the video below to see Newsies featured on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]