Disney songs to come alive in Singapore

This article was published in The Business Times on 13 July 2015.

QUICK, what's your favourite Disney song? Part Of Your World? Kiss The Girl? Someday My Prince Will Come? Let It Go?

The most beloved songs in the Disney oeuvre will be sung live by an international cast of singers at the Disney On Classic concert this Thursday and Friday. The concert is Disney's most successful live orchestral show and has a huge following in Japan. Last year's winter tour in Tokyo sold out more than 50 sessions.

Now Disney On Classic is set to make its debut in Singapore at The Star Performing Arts Centre, with maestro Brad Kelley leading Singapore's Metropolitan Festival Orchestra. They will perform numbers from several films such as Frozen, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, as iconic scenes from the films are projected onto the backdrop.

Actor Brendon Fernandez will be hosting the concert and reading out lines from the films to get the audience in the mood.

Having watched the show in Tokyo, he said: "It was magic. Everyone sang, clapped, stood up and waved their light sticks in the air."

"I know there were kids there, but I would say 90 per cent of the audience were adults. I watched a 2pm show on a Tuesday. And it was completely sold out."

Mr Fernandez said the appeal of Disney's music is universal because "the songs are full of emotions. Listening to it, you feel like you wrote the words. It gives voice to your longing, hopes and pain. And it tells you that somewhere in the world, someone else feels exactly the same way too".

The concert has toured Taiwan and South Korea, though its biggest fanbase is in Japan, where more than half a million people have seen it.

Maestro Kelley, who has been the show's music conductor for 13 years, said: "One of the biggest challenges we face is simply keeping 80 people healthy and moving together from city to city for over 100 days per year. It is a massive logistical problem which must be solved before one performer can go on stage. It is like a marathon."

He will be conducting the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, Singapore's only fully independent professional orchestra made up of highly skilled musicians who have received training on their instruments at a tertiary level (conservatory or its equivalent).

The two concerts in Singapore also has a little surprise in the form of Sasha Suhandinata. The nine-year-old Primary Three student of Methodist Girls School was picked out of 170 hopefuls to sing Do You Wanna Build A Snowman together with one of the cast's nine adult singers. The song is from Disney's 2013 blockbuster Frozen.

Like any serious actress-singer, however, Sasha is not resting on her laurels. She said: "I've watched Frozen many times over to understand Anna's character and study her movements and singing style. I've also train hard with my vocal and musical theatre coaches. I would practise singing Do You Wanna Build A Snowman whenever I can at home and in my parents' car."

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