It’s quite rare to hear a Disney song in a pantomime, have you ever wondered why?
Disney are fiercely protective of their brand, and rightly so, and they have strict regulations on what people can and cannot do with their songs on stage. In most cases it is a straightforward no from Disney if you want to use their songs except for songs from Snow White and Pinocchio, which cannot be used in the context of a pantomime of the same name but can be used out of context. This means, for example, that the dwarfs in Snow White cannot sing ‘Hi Ho’ but if you were putting on a production of Cinderella and could shoe-horn the song in then you would get away with that, if you are able to get through the red tape that is trying to communicate with Disney to get this agreed of course.
The rules are not just restricted to professional pantomimes either, if an am-dram production think they can get away with slipping a Disney number in then they might want to think again, it could be a costly exercise if you risk it and Disney always win in the end. To check on the use if any Disney song you would need to visit www.warnerchappell.com to seek permission. Good luck! To make it clear, no Disney song is covered by a PRS licence.
Disney are not the only company to play hard ball when it comes to using their songs in panto. The hit movie The Greatest Showman may have some of the most memorable and popular songs but when it comes to transferring them onto the stage it is another big no no! Restrictions are in place meaning productions cannot use the songs if the show has a circus setting and they even go as far as to put a restriction on wearing a ringmaster costume whilst performing the hit numbers.
So are there other songs you might struggle to get clearance on to include in panto, oh yes! Songs from Grease and songs by Abba are just as hard to get permission to use and it’s probably not even worth the enquiry, just give them a wide berth.