- Disney in Concert
- Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (Vienna, VA)
- Wolf Trap Orchestra, conducted by Dirk Hillyer
- Friday, August 21, 2015
- Roar Score: 5/5
Another stellar performance at Wolf Trap. Did I show my hand too early? Come on now, we’re huge fans of Wolf Trap, Disney, and films projected with live orchestral accompaniment. So what’s not to love here?
After last summer’s Pixar In Concert, we knew what to expect from Disney In Concert, and it didn’t disappoint. And the sold-out crowd filling every seat and covering every square inch of grass seemed to agree.
In short, there was a full orchestra on stage, playing music timed to video clips projected on a big screen over the stage and outside the amphitheater for everyone sitting on the lawn. For this show, we were also treated to four vocalists who sang several of the most popular Disney songs.
Please, Wolf Trap, do more of these. (psst….Star Wars, just sayin’)
The evening began with a costume parade across the stage. All children were invited to participate, regardless of whether they were wearing a costume. Without exaggeration, we saw more Elsas than we could count. We literally lost count a few dozen in. So, yes, in case you were wondering, Frozen is still popular.
The concert itself began with a “Disney Classics Overture” that was basically a montage of themes and clips from various films over the past 77 years. It was the perfect way to get everyone in the mood and start the night.
From there, we got music, songs, and scenes from The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King, and – yes – Frozen.
This wasn’t a comprehensive deep dive into the Disney catalog, but it was certainly more than just the same songs you’ve likely heard over and over. With respect to Frozen, we obviously got “Let It Go,” but that was surprisingly – thankfully – the only song performed from the film.
The suite from The Hunchback of Notre Dame was surprising since the score is hardly one of the more memorable, and the inclusion of “I Wan’na Be Like You” from The Jungle Book was refreshingly upbeat. Zoey was also thrilled to hear “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, as it was the only song she had actually asked about in advance.
Of the four vocalists, two easily stole the show. Not only did they upstage the orchestra behind them, but Aaron Phillips and Lisa Livesay simply nailed every song they delivered. Aaron Phillips seems as if he were born to be on stage. His renditions of “Be Our Guest,” “I Wan’na Be Like You,” and “Friend Like Me” were filled with humor and a remarkable ability to not only sound just like the original vocalist but also make the song entirely his own. He had the audience in the palm of his hand, and he got the loudest and longest ovations by far.
Liikewise, Lisa Livesay unquestionably has the lungs and voice to belt out The Little Mermaid‘s “Part of Your World” and Beauty and the Beast‘s “Belle.” In fact, she began her career playing Belle at Hong Kong Disneyland and has also played the role in the Broadway musical version of the show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she looks the part; she could easily be a Disney princess in real life. In other words, she’s well suited to the role, and her songs were all flawlessly sung.
The orchestra did an incredible job, but they had the unenviable task of competing against both the vocalists and the video clips.
The show ended in spectacular fashion: a singalong encore to “It’s a Small World.” Would you really expect anything less?
These types of shows are becoming a staple of many orchestras’ summer schedules. Keep an eye out to see if Disney In Concert or Pixar In Concert are coming anywhere near you. Make a date with the orchestra, and make some magic of your own.