"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.
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."
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.
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.
"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.
For more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.