Interview: THOMAS SCHUMACHER – President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions returns to Showbiz Chicago to discuss all things Disney, Broadway and beyond!
Since 1988, Thomas Schumacher has worked with The Walt Disney Company, setting new standards of excellence in film, television, and theatre. Having spent much of his tenure as president of Disney Animation, Mr. Schumacher currently serves as President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Group, where he oversees the development, creation and execution of Disney’s legitimate stage entertainment around the globe, including Broadway, touring and licensed productions; as well as Disney on Ice and Disney Live! shows produced in partnership with Feld Entertainment.
The division’s Broadway, West End, touring and international production credits include Beauty and the Beast, King David, The Lion King, Der Glockner von Notre Dame, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, On the Record, High School Musical, Tarzan® , Mary Poppins , The Little Mermaid , Peter and the Starcatcher , Newsies , Aladdin , Shakespeare in Love, and Frozen. The company has collaborated with the country’s leading regional theatres to develop new stage titles including The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Freaky Friday. Most recent projects include the in-cinema Fathom Events release of Newsies, and the new live-action film Beauty and the Beast and Disney Channel musical adaptation of Freaky Friday, for which he served as Executive Producer. With more than 20 productions currently produced or licensed, a Disney musical is being performed professionally somewhere on the planet virtually every hour of the day.
Intensely passionate about theatre from an early age, Schumacher recognized the impact that theatre has on the lives of young people and developed a licensing program with Music Theatre International to make select Disney theatrical titles available for performance in schools and amateur theatres throughout the world.
Schumacher’s career at Disney began in Walt Disney Feature Animation producing the animated classic The Rescuers Down Under. He was ultimately named President and oversaw some 21 animated features, including The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Tarzan, Hercules, and Lilo & Stitch, and worked closely with Pixar on their first five films.
Prior to joining Disney, he was associate director of the 1987 Los Angeles Festival of Arts, presenting the American premiere of Cirque du Soleil and the English-language premiere of Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata. Previously, he spent five years on staff at the Mark Taper Forum, served as a line producer on the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, and served as assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Ballet.
Mr. Schumacher is the author of the book How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Board of Directors for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Tony® Administration Committee, the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, and was a longtime trustee of the Actors Fund, now serving as a member of the Chairman’s Council. He is a former mentor for the TDF Open Doors program and serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He is currently serving as the Chairman of The Broadway League.