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"A Friend Like Me": Disney's Best Musical Sidekicks

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


These sidekicks steal the show

Audiences can’t get enough of Broadway musicals based on Disney films, and is it any wonder when you consider the parade of catchy songs, colorful characters and “happily ever after” they promise? Sure, we cheer the indomitable spirit of princesses, root for the heroes and heroines, and revel in the delicious evil put forth by some unforgettable villains, but we also know that none of these characters would have a chance without the aid of their loyal sidekicks. Today, we celebrate those faithful and funny friends who always make a Disney a musical an even happier place to visit. 

Michael James Scott currently stars as the Genie in ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Michael James Scott currently stars as the Genie in ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Timon and Pumba – The Lion King
Disney’s long-running musical The Lion King comes to life with amazing puppetry, and two of our favorite characters are Timon and Pumba. That’s right – two sidekicks for the price of one. The lion cub Simba couldn’t be luckier than to have this bossy meerkat and gaseous warthog by his side, proving that true friendship has no bounds. They are even there when it comes time to challenge Simba’s nefarious uncle Scar. Also, these two guys know how to enjoy life as is demonstrated in their motto “Hakuna Matata.” Sometimes you just need a friend to show you how not to take life so seriously.

Iago – Aladdin
Not all sidekicks are strictly devoted to good guys. A villain can have a sidekick as well, and what better example than the wicked vizier Jafar’s partner in crime Iago? In the animated film, Iago was an opinionated parrot with a grating voice, but in the stage production he has been humanized. Serving now as Jafar’s bumbling assistant, Iago does everything he can to help his buddy become both sultan and the most all-powerful wizard in the world. How many co-workers do you know who would go so far to see you to receive a promotion? Iago also gets to chime-in in song on the ditty “Diamond in the Rough,” and provides myriad moments of comic relief.

Olaf – Frozen
Nothing could quite melt your heart like the love and devotion of a snowman that has been magically brought to life. Without a doubt, one of the most beloved magic snowmen of recent years is Olaf from the Disney musical Frozen. Dreaming of warmer weather, and always offering a sunny disposition (particularly warm for a snowman), Olaf is one of the most kindhearted of Disney sidekicks, offering aid to both the princesses, Elsa and Anna. The character’s big showstopper, “In Summer,” is bound to bring the warmest of smiles to even the coldest of days.

Mrs. Potts – Beauty and the Beast
Mothers make some of the best sidekicks, because they are always looking out for our best interests and offering sage advice. In the musical Beauty and the Beast, Mrs. Potts the teakettle is a mother to the teacup Chip, but also befriends the misplaced Belle and does her best to keep her safe and sound instead the castle of the Beast. Of course her gentle meddling (with help from her cohorts Lumiere and Cogsworth) leads to the Beast and his beauty finding true love in each other’s arms. Her romantic rendition of the musical’s title song certainly sets the mood for amour.

Terk – Tarzan
Growing up as the only human in a jungle full of gorillas would be a daunting experience for even the strongest hearted among us. Fortunately, the titular character in the musical Tarzan has a best friend in Terk, a baby gorilla who grows up alongside of him. Terk teaches Tarzan about the ways of life in the jungle, often advising his friend on how to better fit in with the apes. Terk also gets plenty of singing time in the stage musical, singing portions of “Who Better Than Me?,” “Son of Man” and “Trashin’ the Camp.”

Genie – Aladdin
This guy actually tells us, straight up, that “you ain’t never had a friend like me,” and he isn’t kidding. Genie from Aladdin may have spent centuries inside of a lamp, but once you release him, he is good for three wishes (no more). However, if you are a good friend to him, he will reciprocate, and maybe even fudge those three wishes where saving your life is concerned. When Aladdin uses one of his wishes to release Genie from bondage, we learn a whole lot about the real magic of friendship. Besides, who wouldn’t want Genie, a guy who makes us laugh and makes our dreams come true, for a friend?

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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