Let’s talk about the elephant in the house.
Pigs flew on Broadway, so why not a pachyderm?
So figure Disney honchos and Broadway producers, who see gold in them thar “Dumbo” ears.
And we’re not talking down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. We’re talking family bonding time.
Just don’t wreck this classic 1941 cartoon classic, or you’ll have a stampede of angry mothers wreaking havoc in Fantasyland.
After the clunky “Little Mermaid,” tortured “Tarzan” and mousy “Mary Poppins,” the proposed “Dumbo” stomping around producers’ brains better be more “Lion King” than “Beauty and the Beast.”
Yes, I know "Beauty" won the hearts of millions on stage and the original was spectacular. It’s just the lame stripped-down version and blah second-tier performances that I objected to.
“Dumbo,” with its built-in score, racial stereotypes, animal abuse and overriding message of mothers’ eternal love, has plenty to overcome and clarify.
But if this classic cartoon is translated properly to the Great White Way, it could herald a trumpeting of accolades not heard since Sondheim’s heyday. (Which continues, by the way.)
What better time to bring back the basics that made Disney synonymous with quality family fare? Remember “The Wonderful World of Color” and the feel-good family bonding on Sunday evenings around the tube? Broadway might not be as inexpensive as a YouTube download, but when live theater gets it right, there’s no contest.
This is the perfect time to give audiences a break (albeit a brief one) from the rotten economy, corrupt politicians, a horrific healthcare system that punishes and a bleak employment forecast. Who wants to see that on stage?
Give us heartbreak with a happy ending, adorable talking and singing animals and a feel-good souvenir book, and those tickets will be grabbed faster than a discount aisle seat on a Southwest flight. (Or two…sorry, Kevin Smith.)
I say yes to “Dumbo” on stage. Because it reminds me of my late mother and also of my children, with whom I watched that cartoon a million times.
We all need a good cleansing cry. And hope (remember hope?) for the future. Do this one right, Disney and Broadway, and watch how many generations will fill those seats, laughing and crying.
Just make sure the ushers pass out tissues along with the program, because happy tears will be shed watching that classic mother-and-child reunion.
In glorious, living Technicolor.