Disney's films and characters are ingrained in pop culture, and generations have grown up with its music. "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "When You Wish Upon a Star" are iconic songs that are almost as familiar today as "Row Row Row Your Boat."
In the '90s, Disney enjoyed a healthy resurgence with tunes from "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" staking spots in the Great American Songbook. The music of new animated films like "Tangled" and live-action blockbusters such as "Pirates of the Caribbean" continue to work their way into the public consciousness.
On Saturday at Belk Theater, the Charlotte Symphony will take Disney fans on a journey through many of those famous films at "Disney in Concert: The Magical Music from the Movies."
In addition to the aforementioned songs, the show hits on Disney classics and selections from "The Little Mermaid," "The Jungle Book" and "Pocahontas."
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"What's cool about the show is it covers multiple generations of Disney," says Aaron Phillips, one of the tour's four featured vocalists. "It's been such an institution for such a long time. There's a stand-alone piece from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.'
"It covers the gamut in order to get kids that are maybe more into the stuff that's new, but you're introducing them to stuff that's old but is new to them as well."
The performance marks a sort of homecoming for Phillips, a Baltimore native who graduated from high school in Greensboro, studied at UNC Greensboro's school of music, pursued his dreams in L.A., and now lives in New York, where he works in musicals, opera, and doing voices for video games and commercials.
"I have family coming from Florida to see it as well and folks from Chapel Hill and Charlotte," he says.
Phillips says that - like many of us - he was raised on Disney movies, but often responded most to supporting characters. "The princesses are wonderful, but it's the side characters that intrigued me - the villains and the sidekicks," he says.
He revealed that one of the songs he'll perform on Saturday is "Friend Like Me," made famous by Robin Williams' Genie in 1992's "Aladdin." "That's a song I've been singing since I was 8 or 9 years old," Phillips says.
"Disney in Concert" isn't just aimed at children. There's a visual component that appeals to all ages.
"We've got incredible stills and a few clips that anyone that's seen these movies would recognize," Phillips says. In addition, vintage archived storyboard sketches were unearthed for the tour. "You can see how everything was put together while you're listening to the music. You can hear the music of 'The Lion King' and watch how everything came to life."
Adds Phillips: "It's funny. You'll hear the adults and the kids pointing out their favorites during the show. Adults will bring kids and they'll think this is for kids, but then leave with huge smiles on their faces."