GORDON BARR went to Paris to see Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival.
TAKE your favourite Disney tunes, mix in a little contemporary pop and add to it all your favourite animated characters and what do you get?
Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival, of course, and the all-singing, all dancing music mash-up of mega proportions which is now delighting audiences at the Metro Radio Arena.
I had the chance to see the show in Paris and can reveal a fun time is guaranteed for all – young and old.
Picture toddlers and young at heart on their feet and giving it their all – a tiny tots mosh pit in fact – and you get an idea of the reaction to this new Disney show.
Mickey Mouse and his band of friends, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, are at the Arena, along with a host of your favourite Disney characters.
You get to hear greatest hits from the blockbuster movies Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Toy Story remixed to rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, jazz and country, among other jams.
I met up with James Ward, who plays Toy Story’s Woody, after the show in Paris, and commented on his skills with a lasso and skipping ropes. “It was a skill I never thought I would have and now it is a skill I feel very confident in,” he smiles.
“It’s a skill Disney Live! has helped me perfect over months and months of practise.
“Theatre is always going to be giving you your problems, that is one of the wonders of working with a live prop on stage. Recently me and my Jessie were ‘jump-roping’ and it got caught on my holster and we had no idea what was going on, so we continued to jump even though the ropes were no longer twirling.
“I feel we recovered really well as it looked like we were having fun. That is the wonder of being a toy on stage every day as we get to have fun as we get to break those rules and barriers out there.” Produced by Feld Entertainment, Mickey’s Music Festival, features an all-star line-up of more than 25 Disney characters and begins with audiences watching a state-of-the-art video projection of the frenzy backstage which spills on to the stage as Mickey welcomes guests to his concert tour.
Soon after, they are transported to a new world of hip hop beats, dizzying acrobatics, flying carpets and magical transformations with Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie.
Underwater is where the crowd meets up with Ariel, Sebastian and their nautical pals to groove to the reggae rhythm.
Then family and friends can stomp to the beat as Woody, Buzz and Jessie teach them how to boogie rodeo-style.
“I feel the kids read so much into the show and really relate to the Disney characters, and having a show that incorporates contemporary music as well as the Disney classics, it is something you haven’t seen much of,” James tells me.
“It is an amazing experience.
“The Toy Story section really breaks that wall between the audience and we get to have these interactions with the kids you never get to see in a theatre setting.
“It is a theatre experience like no other and we really want the adults, as well as the children, to be able to have fun.
“If you want to stand up and sing along we encourage it, if you want to hoot and holler and scream back at us, that is great.
“We are giving the kids free range to express themselves in that way and have fun with the characters that they wouldn’t normally get to see in their home town.
“Also, it’s great to be on the continent and get to experience all these languages and cultures I never thought I would get the chance to do.
“Exploring the UK is going to be the greatest part – all that culture and history as the US history only goes back so far.”
Megan Stonger, who plays Jessie the cowgirl, has been a performer all her life.
“I started off dancing and auditioned with Disney after college and it is something I have always loved.
“I’ve been with Disney Live shows about a year and a half now but this is my first international tour. It’s a whole new world of culture and opportunities.
“We have so many contemporary pop hits in our show and all different sorts of dance styles intermixed with the 25 different Disney characters on the stage.
“It’s always a lot of fun, and especially when we jump into the jump ropes – that was a skill I had to acquire as we were in the rehearsal stage but it has been a lot of fun and is constantly evolving as we go along.”
Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival is at the Metro Radio Arena until tomorrow. Visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk or call 0844 493 6666.