Disney’s Live-Action ‘Moana’ Reimagining Finds Director in Tony Award Winner Thomas Kail

Thomas Kail accepts the award for best direction of a musical for “Hamilton” at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

On the heels of their live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid garnering an A Cinemascore and opening to largely positive critical reviews, the studio has found a director for one of its next big remakes. According to THR, Thomas Kail, who directed 2020’s filmed stage production of Hamilton as well as Broadway and Off-Broadway of Hamilton and In the Heights, has signed on to helm the Dwayne Johnson-led live-action Moana.

Earlier this year during a conference call with investors and Bob Iger, it was revealed that Johnson and his Seven Bucks Production Company were leading the charge in developing a live-action reimagining of Moana, one of Disney’s modern classics.

I’m deeply humbled and overcome with gratitude to bring the beautiful story of Moana to the live-action big screen. This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people’s grace and warrior strength. I wear this culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reunite with Maui, inspired by the mana and spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me. I want to thank my partners at Disney for their strong commitment to this special endeavor, because there is no better world for us to honor the story of our people, our passion and our purpose than through the realm of music and dance, which is at the core of who we are as Polynesian people.

Dwayne Johnson on the Moana reimagining

While Johnson shared that he would be reprising the role of the demigod Maui, the studio made it clear that there was no timetable for when production might begin as they were searching for a director. Now, it seems they’ve found their guy in the Tony Award-winning Kail. After winning the 2016 Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for his Broadway production of Hamilton, Kail found himself on familiar ground when he led the Disney Plus production of the show which streamed to rave reviews in the COVID-ravaged entertainment landscape of 2020. Kail is currently in the midst of a Broadway run on Sweeney Todd and is also tapped to direct a feature film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.

According to Disney, the live-action reimagining of Moana “will celebrate the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders as seen through the eyes of a young woman eager to pave her own path. Moana’s journey of self-discovery and reflection on the lives of her ancestors won hearts worldwide, as did her newfound friendship with an exiled demigod named Maui.”

Source: THR

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