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Review: Disney's Broadway Hits (Royal Albert Hall)

From Aladdin to Tarzan, this one-off event paid tribute to two decades of Disney on stage

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There's hardly a better venue in the world to experience the magic of Disney than the enchanting Royal Albert Hall, where last night a selection of the finest vocalists in the world leant their talents to a celebration of Disney's Broadway Hits.

Anyone expecting to marvel at the visual spectacle that Disney's stage shows have become synonymous with, would have been momentarily disappointed. Mary Poppins didn't fly down from the upper circle, Tarzan didn't swing onto the stage, Simba and his elephant friends didn't stomp through the aisles; because this event was all about the music.

Hand picked from the Disney hall-of-fame, Ashley Brown (Broadway's original Mary Poppins), Merle Danridge (Aida, Tarzan), Alton Fitzgerald White (Mufasa in The Lion King), Scarlett Strallen (a London Mary Poppins) and Josh Strickland (Broadway's original Tarzan) - along with emcee John Barrowman and accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and choirs from ArtsEd and the Royal Academy of Music - crooned, belted and warbled their way through eleven of Disney's theatrical hits.

From Beauty and the Beast, through The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, all the stories initially discovered on screen before their journey to stage were presented alongside those written specifically for theatre including Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida and Alan Menken and Harvey Fierstein's Newsies.

Highlights included Strickland's take on "My Strongest Suit" from Aida, Brown and Strallen in a 'nanny-off' Mary Poppins medley and Brown's rousing rendition of "Part of your World" from The Little Mermaid.

But by far the two moments that will likely stick in every audience members' minds for a long time to come were an appearance from eight-time Oscar-winner Menken performing "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin, followed swiftly by Trevor Dion Nicholas' barnstorming showstopper "Friend Like Me" accompanied by the West End cast of Aladdin.

A glimpse at the 2018 stage adaptation of Frozen reminded us that there's a lot more to look forward to from Disney on stage, indeed thinking of their back catalogue, there's plenty more family favourites to mine - Jungle Book the Musical anyone?

Here's hoping that in the not too distant future Disney's Broadway Hits Tarzan, Newsies and The Little Mermaid will become Disney's West End Hits too.

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