Our top Disney Plus Star picks for theatre fans
2020 saw the rise of Disney Plus, a new streaming service dedicated to “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Disney Plus is full of Disney musical films, like Aladdin, Frozen, The Lion King and even the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. But, a new channel is coming to UK Disney Plus users, allowing us to watch even more television shows and movies.
Called Star, the Disney subsidiary will include hundreds of streaming options suitable for older audiences. Although Star won’t be theatre dedicated, there’s plenty of theatrical picks for you to get your teeth stuck into.
Here’s our top 20 Disney Plus Star picks in alphabetical order.
The Dolly Parton musical made its West End debut at the Savoy Theatre in 2019. The feminist workplace drama sees a group of female colleagues come together, proving that girlpower can be the ultimate boss. But, before the musical came the original film. Enjoy Dolly Parton’s career-defining performance, joined by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The musical equivalent has a "story about sexual harassment and bullying in the office place, as well as unequal pay and opportunities for female workers there, carries a new resonance and relevance” in today’s society, so just pour yourself a cup of ambition.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Enjoyed Ghost Stories and The Woman in Black? Why not get started on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The 1990s drama sees Buffy, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, embracing and harnessing her supernatural powers. Although Buffy may not strike you as an obvious theatre pick, but Broadway stars Joel Grey and K. Todd Freeman make recurring appearances. There’s a musical theatre episode too, and it really will feel like you’re back at the theatre.
Arthur Miller’s witchhunt drama is often considered to be one of the greatest 20th century dramas. Relive the Salem witch trials on your screen in the 1996 film, starring Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder and Paul Scofield. Directed by the Bridge Theatre’s Nicholas Hytner, this is one theatre film you can’t miss. Did you know that we saw Goody Good watching Disney Plus…
The Devil Wears Prada
Okay, we know The Devil Wears Prada is a cut-throat fashion drama. But, with Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt starring in the 2006 film, get ready strut down the memory catwalk with this movie. A musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada is in the works too, setting its sight on a Broadway opening in 2022. So make sure you’ve watched this film before it comes back into theatre fashion.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s politically-charged musical put Eva Peron (and indeed Elaine Paige) in the spotlight. Songs like “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” became an anthem, with Evita now staged worldwide. If you’ve never seen Evita before, why not watch the 1996 film adaptation, starring Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron and Madonna as the Argentinian wife herself. There’s a new song called “You Must Love Me” written especially for the film too.
Perhaps one of the stagiest musical television dramas of all time, this list wouldn’t be complete with Glee, coming to Disney Plus Star’s channel. Following a group of high schoolers competing in their glee club, there’s a slice of Broadway as well as all the teenage drama you could possibly wish for. There’s appearances from Wicked stars Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, as well as dedicated episodes to The Rocky Horror Show and West Side Story. Now, that’s what you missed on Glee.
A medical drama may not seem like a theatrical television choice, but trust us, if you can get through all 17 seasons to get through, you can watch a five hour long play. The cast includes Broadway stars Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. as well as a powerful musical episode. You’ll never hear “Chasing Cars” in the same way again.
The Turbine Theatre was home to the UK premiere of High Fidelity in 2019, starring Frozen’s Oliver Ormson. Now, enjoy the original movie on Disney Plus Star. Set in Chicago, High Fidelity follows Rob, a record shop owner who is trying to find love. Rather than mixing relationships, he spends more time mixing tracks. But, can he finally find the one and create a playlist to last a lifetime?
How I Met Your Mother
What will theatre be like in 2030? Where will theatre take us? These are just some of the rhetorical questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. But for Ted in How I Met Your Mother, 2030 is the present, telling his son how he literally met his child’s mother. The Tony Award-winning actor and host Neil Patrick Harris stars in the American sitcom, alongside Broadway actors Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor.
A trio of lockdowns has had us spending more time with our family than ever before. So, relax and enjoy the multi-award-winning family sitcom. If you don’t want to watch all 11 seasons, why not check out the musical episode: “The Musical Man” (Season 2, Episode 19).
We can’t wait for Moulin Rouge: The Musical to open in London’s West End at the Piccadilly Theatre. Before then, you “can-can” satisfy your Moulin Rouge cravings with the original Baz Luhrmann film, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Dress up and sparkle with diamonds for a Moulin Rouge viewing and imagine you’re at a Parisian cabaret.
Two strangers find out the meaning of true love after a chance encounter in Pretty Woman. Exemplifying what a romantic comedy film should be, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere lead this 1990 chick flick, with Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” becoming a timeless classic. Watch Pretty Woman before its West End return when theatres reopen, starring Danny Mac and Aimie Atkinson.
In recent years, Kerry Washington has starred in Broadway plays Race and American Son. But, with Disney Plus Star’s arrival this February, enjoy her multi-award-winning performance as crisis management expert Olivia Pope in Scandal. She’s joined by Broadway actors Tony Goldwyn and Joshua Malina.
Think Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap but modernised. Satirising horror dramas, Scream Queens is a comedy whodunit, where unravelling the murderer is like listing off a Broadway’s whos-who. During the two series, you’ll watch Lea Michele, Laura Bell Bundy and even Ariana Grande.
The Secret Life of Bees
Enjoy the movie adaptation of The Secret Life of Bees, available to stream on Disney Plus Star. Based on Sue Monk Kidd’s 2001 novel of the same name, the coming-of-age film stars Antony and Cleopatra’s Sophie Okonedo, as well as Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson. A musical adaptation of The Secret Life of Bees is also in the works to open at the Almeida Theatre, so brush up on your knowledge by watching the film.
America Ferrara gives a career-defining performance as Betty Suarez in this 2006 drama, proving that looks aren’t everything. But, did you know that Ferrera’s also made her West End debut, playing Roxie Hart in Chicago in 2011. She’s joined by City of Angels’ Vanessa Williams as Wilhemina Slater.
The West End premiere of Waitress recently entertained audiences at the Adelphi Theatre. Stars including Sara Bareilles, Katharine McPhee and Lucie Jones all portrayed Jenna, a small-town waitress with a heart of gold in this musical adaptation. But, have you watched the original film? Adrienne Shelly’s posthumous 2007 film comes to Star, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.
What's Love Got to Do With It
As the queen of rock and roll, Tina Turner has been the interest of global attention. In 1993, a biographical film was released, dedicated to her incredible career, which you can watch on Disney Plus Star. Angela Bassett portrays the musician, winning a Golden Globe for her performance. This comes ahead of a brand new Tina Turner documentary coming to HBO in March 2021, so sit down and watch “Simply The Best” film. Tina the Musical will return to the Aldwych Theatre in June 2021.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the two star-crossed lovers in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Breaking records as the highest-grossing Shakespeare film of all time, this contemporary version sees the Montagues and Capulets as rival mafia empires, brandishing guns.
Gillian Anderson plays Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, a nineties sci-fi drama inspired by The Twilight Zone. Although they’re aren’t any musical episodes, the beloved show went on to become one of the longest-running dramas of its type.
Disney Plus Star launches in the UK on 23 February.
Photo credit: Madonna as Evita (Photo courtesy of Evita)