Growing up with Disney movies has left most of us enamored by princes and heroines who portray the finest characters—even as they are only animation.
Just last Sunday, my family and I were lucky enough to see a matinee concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Aptly entitled, Tale as Old as Time, the concert was a showcase of some memorable Disney theme songs that always leave us all with LSD (last song syndrome).
With Gerard Salonga at the helm, the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra played the most-loved Disney movie theme songs to a very appreciative audience made up of preschoolers, teens, and even grandparents. The songs featured were all from Disney favorites, such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Hercules, and the all-time recent bestseller Frozen.
With all copyright agreements secured from Disney, the concert’s backdrop even included edited video clips from these movie classics. The concert was apparently played for its second run worldwide.
The two-hour concert also featured veteran performers—brothers Sam and Red Concepcion, and Karylle, alongside very talented and promising newbies on stage. As Salonga narrated, the performers were handpicked from hundreds of auditions sent online. And believe me, what a pool of new talent there was on stage! There will never be a dearth of talent in this country for certain, and this show was good proof of that.
When three young girls sang “For the First Time in Forever” in sequence, the audience was truly enraptured. But in the end, it was Bituin Escalante’s moment in singing the encore of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Circle of Life” from Lion King that brought the house down. Salonga said that Escalante’s rendition was the very time Disney allowed a performance by a woman. And what perfect a choice she was with her distinct, yet powerful, soulful voice.
The stage was a bit wanting though in production value, with no backdrop or props, as well as the absence of lighting effects that would have created more visual fanfare. The animated film clips from Disney would have been perfect on a widescreen that should have stretched the entire span of the theater. Physically, the CCP concert stage also seemed very cramped to fit a full orchestra and the chorus on stage. At one point, I’m quite sure the singers were watching their step to avoid falling into the rafters.
Nonetheless, what might have been lacking in stage design was fortunately more than compensated by the remarkable cast of performers and the orchestration. Salonga and the orchestra did such an impressive job in this concert even if it required musicians to shift from classical to pop music arrangements one after another. Even then, the orchestra succeeded with every score outstandingly. It was indeed one symphony concert that did not see any shuteye in the audience. After all, who would ever dare sleep through anything Disney?
For one afternoon at least, it was a delightful step back in Walt Disney’s world. Even through its music, the world of Disney draws out reminiscences of the happiest place on earth. And for admitted Disney fanatics, we hummed, whistled, and chanted our favorite tunes to our hearts’ content for one enjoyable afternoon concert.