Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond recently returned to Disney. Take a look at how this updated show compares to the original.
Finding Nemo Movie
Both the original “Finding Nemo – The Musical” and “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” are based on the Disney Pixar 2003 Finding Nemo animated film. Characters perform seamlessly with live size puppetry by live actors and dancers. At the beginning of this heartwarming tale, Marlin, a widowed clownfish, wants to hold on a little too tight to his son, Nemo.
Meanwhile, Nemo is ready to explore the world. While defying his dad to stay away from a nearby ship, Nemo gets swooped up into the fish net by an ocean diver. From there, Marlin is desperate to find his son, making friends along the way.
On Marlin’s journey, he meets Dory, a loyal, yet very forgetful regal blue tang friend. Her song and character really adds a bit of whimsy to this underwater adventure. Dory ends up being a life-long friend and a great asset in finding Nemo.
Nemo ends up in a dentist’s office tank with other fish in Sydney, Australia. The trapped fish work out a plan to escape before the dreaded dentist’s daughter comes back.
Opening in 2007, “Finding Nemo – the Musical” took place in the Theater in the Wild inside Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand USA. This show lasted approximately 40 minutes and played 5-6 times each day.
Since recently reopening as “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” the production has been shorted to 25 minutes in length. Although the show is scheduled for 6 times daily, earlier shows have been cancelled somewhat regularly.
“Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” runs 25 minutes instead of 40 minutes.
“Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” debuted on June 13 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in the same theater as the previous show. The reimagined return of this popular stage show invites guests into the undersea setting that audiences love around the world.
“This show incorporates many of the songs from the original musical, as well as amazing puppetry and live performers that fill the stage.”James Silson, Show Director, Disney Live Entertainment
The original show was one of my favorites at Disney World. The stunning colors, visuals, and voices always make me smile. Although I really enjoyed the “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” show I also noticed some differences.
As in the original production, Marlin and Nemo each go on a separate journey that ultimately teaches them to understand each other on a deeper level. And, thankfully, both productions have a happy ending!
Rather than being told from the Nemo and his dad’s perspective, there are new narrators. When we last saw our favorite fish friends, they were floating on top of the “big blue world” in bags after they escaped! Now, Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond picks up after the Finding Dory animated film. It’s told through the eyes of the “Tank Gang.”
In this new adaptation of Finding Nemo, the fish no longer live in the dentist office. Instead, the fish narrators are at the Marine Life Institute. Because they no longer live in a fish tank, the colorful tank and larger than life stork are missing from the new show.
Also, before the show begins, there is emphasis on conserving marine life. This makes sense given the new story setting. I didn’t miss the creepy “fish killer”, Darla.
Updated Lighting and Effects
The 1,500-seat Theater in the Wild takes guests to an undersea world through innovative special effects, sound and lighting. In addition to a new script, the show features new set pieces and a custom LED video wall that visually extends the physical sets on stage – including a 32-foot-long sunken submarine. Although the submarine was quite large, I didn’t find it an improvement over the previous props.
“We’ve taken a new approach to the set for ‘Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!’,” said art director Matt Fiuza, Disney Live Entertainment. “We were inspired by 3D cut paper art and sculptures as we developed the scenic in the show. Our team had such an exciting time looking at our tank set through this brand-new lens of this watercolor sculpture aesthetic.”
Overall, I found the more colorful backdrops and LED videos an improvement to the show.
The theatrical puppetry of Michael Curry’s work is featured in this show. He co-designed the richly detailed character puppets seen in the Broadway version of Disney’s “The Lion King.” Main characters such as Marlin, Nemo, and Dory are represented by live performers operating animated puppets. Some puppets are larger-than-life such as Crush, the cool sea turtle, who is nearly the size of a car.
The puppetry intertwined with singing is my favorite thing about this delightful show. Although the main character puppetry remained largely the same, there were some other changes. In place of a larger backdrop, fish and other aquarium life were smaller and simpler puppets. For example, the fish net that engulfed Nemo originally was huge. Now, when a school of fish is shown, the actors simply used hand puppets.
I missed some of the larger background puppetry in the new version.
If you’re a fan of the original Finding Nemo – the Musical, you will enjoy this version of the show too! The length of the show along with various changes are, for the most part, positive. If you’ve never tried this show, I hope you will soon! At the very least, you’ll get about 30 minutes of air conditioning.
Do you love Finding Nemo show? Have you seen the new show, or are you looking forward to seeing it? Please hare your thoughts with us in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.