Disney on Classic premieres in Singapore for two nights

Brad Kelley and the cast of Disney on Classic share with Imagine TV Network about their favorite music and how they bring the animated characters to life.

Words by Imagine TV Network

Created by Harmony Japan in 2002, Disney on Classic has been performed in numerous locations in Japan and for the first time in its 14-year history, it will premiere in Singapore for two nights of performance. The stop in Singapore will also mark the first time the concert has been performed in Southeast Asia.

Image credit: Disney on Classic

Brad Kelley, who has been the conductor for the orchestral concert since its inception, shares that the programme has evolved from a traditional concert setting. "The orchestra has become involved in a way that could hardly have been imagined... The singers have also seen their role expand significantly." He cites his background in popular music and Las Vegas-style performing as the reasons why the concert had been able to create connections with the audience.

Cherishing the relationship with the audience, he says, lets him see them as friends and performing becomes both a joy and a pleasure. "Every concert is like the latest installment of an ongoing conversation that I am having with the orchestra and our audience. Boredom is never a problem when you are interacting with someone who is interesting," he remarks.


For soloists Rob Hancock and Mandy Dickson, who are part of eight singers for the concert, they concur that each day of the tour is an adventure and full of surprises. Hancock shares that rehearsals changes everyday, depending on how the concert went the previous night. "There is no such thing as a typical day... which is why being a performer is so fun. You have to love the unexpected," he comments.

Image credit: Disney on Classic

In addition to singing for the roles of Prince from Snow White and Hans from Frozen, he also portrays a flamingo and various fishes. Instead of finding his roles challenging, he says that the variety keeps it interesting because each role is very different from the other.

Dickson, who portrays Snow White and Rapunzel, lists the finale, "True Love's Kiss," as an example. It was a challenge, she says, adding that they worked very hard on that piece and are the first Disney on Classic group to perform that song. "And I feel that with the music, you are never 'done.' There is always room for improvement and growth."

Brendon Fernandez, actor and theater thespian based in Singapore, was cast in the role of the Navigator. His responsibility is to bridge the gap between the audience's memory of the Disney films and the music they are hearing during the concert.

Explaining the purpose of his role, he says, "I am your personal guide to Disney on Classic... I'll fill you in on the films, the music and the performers."

He also admits that it was daunting stepping into the shoes of his Japanese predecessors but adds, "But I am lucky because my job is to focus attention on the music and everyone working on Disney on Classic agrees the music is the star of the show."

Kelley shares that it is a herculean task not only to move 80-90 people to a new city everyday but also to ensure they are ready to perform. The other little-known challenge lies in the music to be performed. Even though the music had already been written, he says there is a lot of work involved in editing, adapting and rearranging in order to convey the vision of the program. "Part of the challenge is to make it look effortless, even though it is not."


Dickson says she finds the wide vocal range and specific vocal style required for the music from Snow White a challenge. "I always make sure to get a good warm up, especially since we open the show with Snow White, which has many high notes in it.

Image credit: Disney on Classic

To warm up her voice, she shares that she starts with lip trills and glides up the scales until she reaches the highest note she has to sing in the concert. Breathing exercises are also a must in warming up her lungs, she says.

Bringing the animated, two-dimensional characters to life reminds him of how everything in the world is inter-connected, Hancock says. "I love how I have found something in common with the characters... Even if you are playing a flamingo, you can still find the human part of the character." The audience, he adds, will be able to feel that connection through the music.

Dickson recalls Tony Clements, the concert's director in New York City, telling them to remember the lessons in the characters and says what he said resonated with her. "In Cinderella, it is 'Have faith in dreams and someday your rainbow will come shining through.' In The Little Mermaid it is 'Now I can be part of your world.'"

"I have always loved the Disney characters so much and felt a strong connection with them because I am a dreamer," she says. The connection, especially with the characters she portray in the concert, has developed into a stronger bond since she immersed herself in their songs.

Asked how songs were chosen for the concert, Kelley says they like to mix old and new songs from Disney's repertoire over the last 80 years and include traditional favorites like "Heigh Ho!" from Snow White" and songs from the movie Frozen."The music from Frozen is the most recent example of Disney music at its best. Great melodies with clever, insightful lyrics. You could say it was an instant 'classic' I suppose!"

Disney on Classic ~ A Magical Night ASIA TOUR 2015 premieres at The Star Theater, The Star Performing Arts Center on 16th and 17th July 2015.



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