mon 22/07/2024

Disney 100 - The Concert, OVO Hydro, Glasgow review - a slick tour of the Magic Kingdom | reviews, news & interviews

Disney 100 - The Concert, OVO Hydro, Glasgow review - a slick tour of the Magic Kingdom

Disney 100 - The Concert, OVO Hydro, Glasgow review - a slick tour of the Magic Kingdom

This was a breezy and entertaining trip to the house of Mouse

Charlie Burn was suitably attired for the Disney showcaseMilan Schlambach

There are a few perils to saying supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as Janette Manrara discovered on this opening night of Disney’s anniversary arena jaunt. Trying to divide the Glasgow crowd into sections to sing the song, Manrara tripped over who was to sing what, something only notable because the rest of the evening was possessed of an almost overpowering slickness.

Although the opening overture went all the way back to Steamboat Willie, nearly all of the set, which featured a full orchestra, a rotating array of singers supplied from the West End and a likeable, cheerful hostess in Manrara, could be divided into two portions. There was material from the studio’s golden years, such as Charlie Burn giving a tenderly romantic “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, and then a heftier selection from the modern renaissance that kicked off with 1989’s The Little Mermaid and runs through to 2021’s Encanto, which inevitably provided ubiquitous pop chart-topper “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, here as lively and sashaying as you’d hope for.

That formula did mean there was no joy for anyone with a fondness for the company’s less heralded 70s and 80s output, though the odds of anyone there having purchased a ticket in the hope of hearing something from The Black Cauldron seem slim. Instead the evening proceeded through plenty of familiar favourites, in a manner that sometimes veered towards being a conveyor belt, with little room for performers to truly breathe before being shuttled off and someone else ushered on.

This was a problem that affected the evening’s first half more prominently, with sets of songs grouped around themes of dreams and love (the post interval section was dedicated to adventure and friendship). Despite a spirited vocal by Bessy Ewa, the jazzy “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog never quite swung enough, and there was a flatness to the rocky, Phil Collins penned "You'll Be In My Heart" from Tarzan.

There was also an issue in that material from Star Wars and the Marvel Universe were awkwardly inserted into the mix, as if paying tribute to the corporate hegemony that has seen the mouse acquire other cultural powerhouses. The “Imperial March” and material from the Avengers films did let the Hollywood Sound Orchestra take centre stage, but it felt as uncomfortable as Royal Blood at a pop festival.

A far more convincing display of the orchestra’s skills came when they performed “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Fantasia, with both visuals and the score possessing a wickedness, notably on the sudden burst of noise accompanying Mickey Mouse taking an axe to an errant broom. It was there that actual character could take hold rather than simply polished recitation.

This was true of all the evening’s best moments, whether the straightlaced romance of the title track to Beauty and the Beast or a terrifically rhythmic selection from Moana that let Ewa star and a deliciously camp, villainous “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, with Earl Carpenter hamming it up tremendously as the sea witch Ursula. By the time Lion King’s “Circle of Life” provided a powerhouse finale, and “Hakuna Matata” a joyful encore, complete with balloons thrown to the audience, it felt like there really was a little magic in the air. Just a touch, though.

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