'Rogers: The Musical' delivers a winner for Disneyland

June 29, 2023, 10:30 PM · "Rogers: The Musical" opened for previews for invited guests today at Disney California Adventure, in advance of its official debut to Disneyland Resort guests Friday.

The 30-minute, live-action show tells the origin story of Steve Rogers' Captain America, expanding upon on snippet performed in the first episode of the "Hawkeye" series on Disney+.

I gotta admit that I came to this one with some trepidation. "Rogers: The Musical" existed in "Hawkeye" as absurdist exposition of Clint Barton's estrangement not just from the Avengers but also from the public that he helped save. Created by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman - the team behind the musical "Hairspray" - the "Save the City" number we saw in the Disney+ TV show offered a campy, low-budget musical reenactment of the Battle of New York in the first "Avengers" movie.

No other Avengers showed up to watch it. And Barton did not seem to share the enjoyment that the fictional Broadway audience - or the countless real-life Marvel fans at home - found from watching this delightful moment of satirical comic relief. Now that begs the question, what is "Save the City" satirizing anyway? Is it just self-depracating fun for theater geeks? Or should we actually go there, and consider that an overly stylized depiction of a deadly battle, played for laughs and cheers, is precisely what Marvel Studios is selling us with every movie ticket?

Granted, Marvel's battles are fictional in our world - at least in our world outside the boundaries of the Disneyland Resort and its Avengers Campus. But within that we sit for this 35-minute, extended version of "Rogers: The Musical."

Yes, "Save the City" is here, as is Alan Menken's and David Zippel's "Star Spangled Man" from "Captain America: The First Avenger." That number presaged "Save the City" as a satirical musical production in the MCU, illustrating the absurdity of using a super soldier for nothing more than selling War Bonds. Disney promised five all-new songs to accompany those two in "Rogers: The Musical," but would this show be nothing more than a pastiche of camp and caricature? Would Disney Live Entertainment find something else to change the tone and put anything earnest under the marquee of "Rogers: The Musical?"

They did. For surrounding those two established songs, Disney's production team wisely chose to frame "Rogers: The Musical" as a classic Broadway romance.

Steve and Peggy
Photo courtesy Disney

Here's the book: Young, scrawny Steve Rogers perseveres to join the Army, meeting the love of his star-crossed life, Agent Peggy Carter, along the way. Now this is "Rogers: The Musical," not "Carter: The Musical," so the focus here will pull on Steve and not Peggy. But Agent Carter strikes the first blow in this narrative, punching out a bully that had Steve stood up to, only to put himself at risk of a beatdown. Ah, how romance blooms. 'Tis not with a kiss, but a punch to the kisser.

The show actually crafts a more efficient and emotionally powerful depiction of Rogers' frustration trying to join the Army than "The First Avenger" did with the song, "I Want You." That leads Rogers swiftly into Dr. Erskine's super soldier machine and "Star Spangled Man."

Rogers: The Musical

Director Jordan Peterson pushes the action along, using giant comic book covers to note the events of "The First Avenger" that eventually put Rogers in the ice for his 70-year nap. And then, as the "Stark-ettes" who serve as the musical's Greek chorus promised in their opening bit, "Nick Fury sings." Fury's patter song, "What You Missed," perfectly sets the scene for the inevitable "Save the City," steering us from an earnest doomed romance into the absurdity of a hoodie-wearing Hulk and selfie-snapping Thor dancing around the ruins of midtown Manhattan.

Rogers: The Musical

But once we've checked that fan service box, it's time to get back to that heartfelt musical that Disney sneaked past us. "End of the Line" and "Just One Dance" wrap the story of Rogers and Carter with two beautiful tunes that leave the audience with renewed hope that anyone can find a beautiful relationship, no matter what raw deal life first throws you.

With the show scheduled for a limited, two-month run in the Hyperion Theater, Disney easily could have laid up and offered the cheap fan-service rehash that I feared. But Peterson's team did not do that. They made the heroic effort to tell a story worthy not just of Steve Rogers but also of the love and respect that so many Disneyland fans feel for that character.

If you go

"Rogers: The Musical" will be using a virtual queue system initially. You can get instructions here. In addition, Disney is selling a $29 Rogers: The Musical Premium Viewing Experience package from the Studio Catering Co. Truck in Hollywood Land. That package will include access to lounge seating in front of Stage 12 before the show, priority choice of seating in the theater, a souvenir lanyard, a Rogers: The Musical popcorn bucket with kettle corn and choice of bottled beverage, and a Disney PhotoPass photo op.

The show runs multiple times daily on Tuesdays through Saturdays for most weeks during its run. The show closes August 31.

The Disneyland Resort is offering a discounted three-day ticket for California residents this summer, and our travel partner has that ticket for less than what Disney is charging on its own website. You can find that and other deals for non-residents on their Disneyland Resort tickets page.

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Replies (8)

June 29, 2023 at 5:14 PM

Strange. Disney has the deepest well of musicals they could tap, and they give us this?

June 29, 2023 at 6:01 PM

@thecolonel - I think that's why it's limited.

This is a 30 minute show, based on a recent joke within the MCU. The talent is there, but this certainly seems more of a frothy, disposable, quick summer time show vs the previous shows that ran at the Hyperion.

It almost seems like it could be an outdoor mini performance. Waiting to read Robert's review, but it looks exactly as I expected! It's certainly campy, but that's the joke! Seems like it will be entertaining in those regards.

June 29, 2023 at 6:30 PM

Just seems like the Venn Diagrams of people who like musicals and people who care about Captain America's origin story don't hugely overlap. But what do I know, Disney has been making really great decisions lately so I'm sure this one will pay off just as well.

June 29, 2023 at 6:57 PM

That's true, and I think if this were a legit (pun intended) Broadway or Off Broadway show...that would totally validate the notion of a strange overlap between people who like musicals & who care about Cap's origin story.

BUT because its for theme park visitors, I think its is a different set of rules all together. People will watch the show just to go inside, get some AC & take a break. This is also DCA, so the SoCal crowd constantly turn out for any and everything new.

The Marvel brand is familiar enough even if you don't get the ACTUAL MCU reference. Its essentially recreating scenes from the first Cap & Avengers...plenty of people have seen those movies.

Ultimately, you'll have a ton of families in there no matter what show was taking place. All those DLR resort shows always have an audience. 30 minutes isn't too long for the show to get too deep.

Some songs, some jokes, some stunt choreography. Its a tried and true formula, but Disney is just capitalizing on the IP...pretty sure there's merchandise available.

June 30, 2023 at 5:50 AM

I hope they bring this to WDW for my hopeful 2025 trip. The premium package seems like a decent deal too.

June 30, 2023 at 8:50 AM

None of the characters in the show can appear at the WDW theme parks.

June 30, 2023 at 9:58 AM

Well, it's better than nothing, but I hope that there's going to be a better show in the theatre long term. Given Disney's funding woes however, I doubt it...

June 30, 2023 at 12:45 PM

There’s lots of potential for other Marvel shows in this venue as well. Asgard players present “Ragnarok”? A Grandmaster gladiator spectacle? A Spider-Man musical with stunts?

Ok, scratch that last one…

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