Fans who have often dreamed of the gladdest gladiator going the distance on stage will finally get their one last hope fulfilled, and that’s the gospel truth. (Sorry, I just really love Hercules.)

A stage adaptation of Disney’s 1997 animated musical Hercules will be presented at the Public Theater this year at the company’s outdoor Delacorte Theater in New York’s Central Park. Lear deBessonet, a resident director at the Public and a founder of the Public Works program (through which Hercules will be presented), will direct the musical, which will run Aug. 31-Sept. 8. Beyond the Public production, EW has learned there are currently no commercial plans for the title.

The stage musical will feature the film’s original songs as well as new ones by Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel, who wrote the gospel-inspired songs from the 1997 film (including “Zero to Hero,” “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love),” and the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance”). Chase Brock (Be More Chill) will choreograph, while Kristoffer Diaz, who recently adapted the book for Fox’s Rent: Live, will adapt the Disney film’s script for the stage.

HERCULES, from left: Hercules, Philoctetes, Pegasus, 1997, ©Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Co
Credit: Everett Collection

Hercules will also boast scenic design by Dane Laffrey (Once on This Island); costume design by Andrea Hood (Twelfth Night at the Delacorte); lighting design by Tyler Micoleau (The Band’s Visit); sound design by Kai Harada (Head Over Heels) and Jessica Paz (Bandstand); wigs, hair, and makeup design by Cookie Jordan (The Cher Show); and music supervision and arrangements by Menken’s legendary musical collaborator Michael Kosarin.

Disney’s 1997 film, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, reimagined the ancient myth of Hercules and his quest to prove himself as a god in a turbulent, tormented Greece (that also loved bopping along to gospel music). The film starred Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods, Danny DeVito, and Rip Torn, as well as a host of theatre stars who lent their vocals to the film’s narrating Greek muses.

Hercules is being presented by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. The production is a part of the Delacorte’s summer season, which kicks off as usual with the Public’s 57-year-long tradition of Shakespeare in the Park. This year’s Shakespeare productions are Much Ado About Nothing as directed by Kenny Leon (May 21-June 23) and Coriolanus directed by Daniel Sullivan (July 16-Aug. 11).

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