During Sunday night’s temporary return of the The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Alan Menken — the man who brought you the music of The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Little Shop of Horrors — started rattling off what he’s been up to lately. (O’Donnell used the star-studded livestream — Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone, Tony winners who clearly don’t text; both performed “Smile” — to raise money for the Actors Fund, a charitable organization that benefits theater professionals and, of course, actors.
So what’s Menken up to, you ask? Bless my soul, he’s on a roll. He’s working on the new Little Mermaid and co-wrote four additional songs with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who brought you … well, you know. He’s working on an unnamed Broadway show, and he’s working on the music for an Enchanted sequel, Disenchanted. (Perhaps this one will see Idina Menzel belt out the number so rudely denied her in the original.) And … and … HE SAID HE’S WORKING ON AN EXTENDED STAGE RUN OF HERCULES. The very same one that “we did in Central Park last summer.”
Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park was the hottest ticket in town in August 2019. As with all Public Works show, the tickets were free. But unlike past shows, where fans could camp out for days to secure tickets, Hercules tickets were only available via digital lottery in an effort to make the process more fair. (You could also try your hand at the in-person rush lottery an hour before the show, an incredibly dramatic event.) The show featured five new songs, including “A Cool Day in Hell,” a comedic number from the show’s villain, Hades, played by Roger Bart, the actor who sang for Hercules in the original animated film. There was a moment where Bart did the “flames on the side of my face” thing from Clue that still has me laughing months later. I was sad so few people got to see the clunky joy that was Hercules onstage.
At that point, the show’s team said there were no plans for a larger run. Which sounded, well, like b.s. Which, thankfully, appears to have been the case. (Menken was light on any other details.) I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I absolutely cannot handle this news.