What makes a hero?” are the very first words in “Hercules,” the cheerful and sweet-spirited stage production based on the 1997 animated Disney film premiering in Central Park as part of the Pubic Theatre’s Public Works program.
Now pinched for 2019 sensibilities, it’s an intelligent, funny and music to ears, to say the least, show that is also part pageant, detailed with a marching band, an epic kick line and a cityscape occupied with plenty of New Yorkers.
The breadth and local involvement inherent in Public Works means this stage show’s destiny probably lies more in community-centric outputs rather than on Broadway.
The emotional consequence of the show and its grading-on-a-curve compassion rests on this relation — not unlike the endeavor Cornerstone Theatre Company has done for decades. Minus that, though, it would still have many enjoyments, just not the same objective.
Lear Debessonet directs an all-ages cast of some 200 — mostly selected from community institutions from the five towns — with efficiency, stability and a keen understanding of traffic control, enabling many to have their minutes of the spotlight
For many millennials its a trip down the who grew up with the film its a trip down the nostalgia lane, and they are likely to applaud, as the opening night crowd did, the first few notes from movie tunes such as “Zero to Hero,” “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” and the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance.”
But new songs by composer Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel also charm, especially the jazzy “A Cool Day in Hell,” the anti-date-night number “Forget About It” and the ever-sung“To Be a Human.” As even a vi fall admitting after one song, “It’s an objectively catchy tune.”
In the end, the show rises or falls on the charisma itsit’ sad, and in Jelani Aladdin (who originated the role of Kristoff in Broadway’s “Frozen”) the show has managed to.
Discover a hero that’s also huggable. With a million-watt smile, Aladdin’s Herc is charming, funny and emotionally vulnerable. This Herc is human to the core and we’ll still manage to have the good like resemblance that the animated one had.