No single institution has arguably made a greater impact on pop culture over the last century than the Walt Disney Company and now, during its 100th anniversary year, an international tour is currently making its way through arenas across the country. Disney100: The Concert has been launched in celebration of some of the most iconic music ever to have graced the silver screen.
Although the House of Mouse has also enjoyed great success in the live theatre space since its 1994 Broadway premiere of Beauty and the Beast – with the West End productions of The Lion King and Frozen still going strong, Newsies slowly coming towards the end of its run at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, and the current touring production of The Lion King being joined by the first-ever UK and Ireland tour of Aladdin this autumn – this concert presentation puts its focus squarely on Disney’s cinematic offerings throughout the decades.
Alongside the enormous Hollywood Sound Orchestra and a gigantic screen that could give IMAX a run for its money, the event also boasts a nine-strong ensemble (with a sprinkling of stagey faces) and Strictly Come Dancing favourite Janette Manrara as your host, fittingly welcoming you all to “Be Our Guest” for the show’s first musical number.
Before that, however, the megamix – a tried and tested crowd pleaser at the end of many a jukebox musical – teases with snippets and visuals from 1928’s animated short Steamboat Willie all the way through to recent smash hits such as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Encanto. Indeed, the Hamilton maestro also claims the act one finale with renditions of the Oscar-nominated “Dos Oruguitas” and the record-breaking, Grammy-winning “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”.
Vocal standouts of the night include Cleve September (Bonnie and Clyde), sounding every bit a Disney prince with his duet of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” (alongside Les Misérables’ Charlie Burn), as well as a stirring rendition of “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pixar’s sole offering of the night: “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story, while Earl Carpenter (The Phantom of the Opera) shows off his versatility with Hercules’ rousing “I Want” number “Go the Distance” before flamboyantly embracing his inner sea-witch for Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. Burn also cements her stunning vocal prowess with Cinderella’s “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “How Does a Moment Last Forever” from the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, while Bessy Ewa (Back to the Future) effortlessly proves herself a powerful stage presence with her renditions of The Princess and the Frog’s “Almost There”, Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” and “Colours of the Wind” from Pocahontas.
As you’d imagine, the world of animation enjoys the lion’s share of the setlist – and, yes, The Lion King is heavily featured towards the show’s climax – but there are also some invigorating instrumentals from Disney’s live-action canon, with Star Wars’ “Imperial March”, and themes from Marvel’s Avengers and Pirates of the Caribbean also being showcased.
With sections of the concert themed to dreams, love, adventure and friendship, there’s something here for everyone from the casual fan to the die-hard Disney aficionados, and for those longing to join in, worry not: the event goes full karaoke during the “Bare Necessities” number from The Jungle Book.
Disney100: The Concert has already made stops in Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester, and continues tonight in Birmingham, before heading to Cardiff (7 June) and Bournemouth (8 June).