On Saturday 23rd June I went to watch my first ever concert in the National Concert Hall.I was at a concert there before but I was directing stage-left so did not get to see the show in peace. I have wanted to go to a (proper) show in there for ages so when Disney in Concert came along I bought tickets, along with my trusty companion, Padpad and fellow Disney-nut, Commander Emu, to the 7pm show. The show promised to bring to life a set of Disney classics performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. It was directed by Richard Kaufman and four Broadway vocalists accompanied the orchestra, Candice Safstrom, Whitney Kaufman, Aaron Philips and Andrew Johnson.The stage was set up simply with the orchestra and a large overhead screen. We did wonder where the singers would stand as there didn’t seem to be much space left on the stage but we guessed some Disney magic would help them fit.
The RTÉ Concert Orchestra opened with a Disney Classics Overture. This was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed trying to guess the tunes before the movie clips came up on the screen. It was a mix of some of my favourite ones from Peter Pan to Pinocchio and was a good mix of old and more modern Disney movies, which are often neglected.
Next came some music from the Little Mermaid (which was released in 1989, just to make you feel old). Under the Sea and Part of that World were sang and we all had to try very hard not to start belting the words out. The singers came running out of the wings and darted all over the front of the stage without falling over, or off the stage, which was quite impressive. This was all while the movie clips from the movies were played on the screen above. I was dissapointed that nobody sang Poor Unfortunate Souls, which is one of my favourite Disney songs, but the orchestra did a great job. Ursula would be happy I think!
This was followed by Colours of the Wind which made us all feel guilty about our lack of environmental awareness and colonial pasts. They then cheered us up with Be Our Guest and Belle (Little Town) from Beauty and the Beast. All four singers joined together and we could not help dancing about in our seats, pretending to be villagers. Padpad could not help but think of the Simpsons See My Vest, which is just as catchy, despite the animal cruelty. Next, the duet of Beauty and the Beast made me feel a bit like I was intruding on a private moment but was sang beautifully none-the-less.
The last two pieces of Act 1 were sing-a-long stompers. I Wanna Be Like You, (I have the Jungle Book on vinyl, retro style) and a medley from Mary Poppins which we sang along to. They even had lyrics for the Mary Poppins medley on screen. Many people didn’t sing along which really was an opportunity wasted!
There was a panic at the interval as there was no alcohol on sale. Turns out the bar is to the side, not out the front. In the end we didn’t order anything but it is nice to know about the wide range of refreshments on sale. I think I even spotted people eating sandwiches under the fancy chandelier. You can also buy CDs in a small shop in the lobby so you an take the music home with you to enjoy until you break or lose the CD.
Act 2 opened with music from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I tried not to cry as I have a soft spot for Quasimodo and thinking about his hard life upsets me. Next the orchestra swept into Arabian Nights from Aladdin which gave me shivers. It is a brilliant, exciting piece of music which makes me think of sand and adventure. It is definitely on my favourites list. The singers came back for A Friend Like Me and A Whole New World. I love both of those songs but A Whole New World is forever ruined by Peter Andre and Jordan’s version.
The highlight of the night for me by far came when the orchestra played the iconic music from Pirates of the Caribbean. Initially it seemed really quiet as I am so used to hearing that music in a cinema with surround sound. But it was fantastic nonetheless and I am sure Commander Emu pinned her Jolly Rodger to her bunk bed again after hearing this piece.
Really no concert of Disney Music is complete without music from The Lion King. They sang Can You Feel the Love Tonight and I Just Can’t Wait to be King. They did not however sing my favourite, I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, which to be fair is a bit short for a concert. All four singers and the orchestra then performed The Circle of Life. It was brilliant and I instantly regretted not bringing a Lion teddy (or my cat) to hold over my head in respect.
To finish they performed It’s a Small World. Again they put up the lyrics so we could all sing along, which we did rather loudly while stomping our feet. I very much enjoyed it and was glad my Dad was not there as he has a phobia of It’s a Small World. It is rather unfortunate but you can’t pick what freaks you out and let’s be honest, the song is a bit creepy.
Overall it was a great nostalgia buzz and a great night of music. My only criticism was that the singers were a bit, as Padpad put it, CBBC. They were hoping about and talking in a kind of weird cutesy way, which to be honest I don’t think appeals to anyone, children included. Some of the singing also came across as quite twee at times but I think there is always a fine line between Disney/Musical Theatre and being overly sweet. Overall however the quality was excellent and we were very entertained.
The National Concert Hall is a great venue and I really enjoyed it. I have booked another two concerts there this summer in different seats so we can try and find the sweet spot. I will keep an eye on what is happening here from now on even if my purse will not thank me for it!
Now I sense a Disney karaoke party is in my future, sadly without the singing animals.