Show and Tell Hawai'i

Disney's 'Moana' lands Johnson and Miranda

August 17th, 2015

 

 

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Two box office champs will take pivotal roles in Disney’s upcoming Hawaii-themed animated “Moana” film, due to be released Nov. 23,  2016.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the magnet behind this year’s “San Andreas” disaster film and a staple in the “Fast and Furious” adventure franchise, will provide the voice of legendary Maui the demi-God figure depicted in hula and mele in island song and dance.

And original music will be by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator-star of the current Broadway hit “Hamilton,” told in hip-hop raps, about the founding father of America. Miranda is a previous Tony Award-winner for his “In the Heights” musical, which he wrote, starred in and choreographed in the first-ever Broadway musical focusing on his hip-hop style in storytelling on Broadway.

“Moana,” of course, poses a cultural challenge, introducing a new Disney Polynesian princess along with the demi-God Maui figure rooted in island mythology. Whether the mash-up of the brawny former wrestler-actor and the masterful darling of contemporary Broadway musicals can muster up a credible sense of Hawaiiana  remains to be seen.

We can hope, of course. The concern is: Will there be an underlying sense of Hawaii and its treasured hula culture?  Or does it matter, since Jawaiian — with a Jamaican flavor and some measure of the hip-hop culture — have already become the “island sound” of a changing modern-day Hawaii?

According to Disney, “Moana” follows “a spirited teenager who sets out to prove herself a master wayfinder.”  Moana has been described as a “sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of nagivators.”

The lead voice of the title character has not yet been revealed, but “Moana” follows
“Mulan” and “Pocahontas” in Disney’s expanding profile of diversifying princess characters.

Mark Mancina (“The Lion King”), Grammy-winning composer, and Opetaia Foa‘i, founder-lead singer of the band Te Vaka, also will collaborate with Miranda on new music.

John Musker and Ron Clements (“The Princess and the Frog,” “Aladdin”) will direct.

 

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