Hercules might be one of the best-known gods in mythology. But as a Disney hero, he hasn't gotten as much respect as some other characters. That's all changing with the stage adaptation since the Hercules musical will have five more songs than the Disney animated film. The New York Times reported that the original songwriting team of Alan Menken and David Zippel are behind the new tunes for this Greek god. The Hercules musical will only have a limited run at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theater's Public Works. But these new songs will have you wanting to "Go the Distance" to New York City to catch Hercules, Meg, the Muses, and even Hades belting to the heavens.
The 1997 Disney movie featured gospel-infused songs sung by the Muse narrators like "The Gospel Truth," "Zero to Hero," and "A Star Is Born." The Muses also helped Hercules' love interest Megara realize her feelings in "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)." Danny DeVito even got a song as Hercules' reluctant satyr trainer Phil in "One Last Hope." But the title character Hercules only showed off his vocal talents once in "Go the Distance." So, Menken and Zippel have expanded beyond their beloved numbers to let Hercules and other characters express themselves a bit more through song. When the musical premieres on Aug. 31, new songs will include a Muse song called "Great Bolts of Thunders," a duet between Meg and Hercules (aw), and a song sung by Hades called "A Cool Day in Hell."
Hades never got to sing in the animated movie, but Disney villain songs penned by Menken can be particularly show-stopping, as proven by "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid and "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast. So, not only is it evilly delightful that the King of the Underworld gets a song, but it's particularly exciting since Hades will be played by the original Hercules singing voice Roger Bart.
In his interview with The New York Times, Menken explained that "A Cool Day in Hell" is "a little bit" like Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and is his favorite added song. Meanwhile, the musical's director Lear deBessonet claimed that all of the new songs by composer Menken and lyricist Zippel are "some of their best work," which is pretty impressive considering Menken's long Disney career. And if that wasn't praise enough, deBessonet added, "It makes me cry ... It makes me dance. I squeal."
As for the OG songs, they will all still be there. But while fans don't have to worry about missing the classics from the animated movie, one performer is concerned about singing them. "The first time I sang 'Go the Distance' in front of Roger Bart, I wanted to poop my pants, point blank," Hercules actor Jelani Alladin told The New York Times. "This is the man whose voice has made this song iconic." Yet, considering that Alladin made his Broadway debut by adapting the character Kristoff for the Frozen musical, it's likely he'll have nothing to worry about.
The only downside to these new songs is that the Hercules musical will only run for one week in New York City. Menken told the NYT that there are no plans for any additional productions. But with the time it took to write five songs more than 20 years after the original movie was released, it seems like a waste not to share the Hercules musical with all of Mount Olympus. So maybe our souls will be blessed with a wider release, just as they've been blessed by these brand-spankin' new Hercules songs.