I’d like to think that I’m raising my nine-year-old daughter to appreciate the arts, culture and to enjoy a variety of music—in addition to Top 40 pop songs. But, honestly, if I asked my daughter if she wanted to go to the Phoenix Symphony, I most likely would receive the “eye roll,” that may be familiar to some of you.
As a family that loves Disney, I decided the best approach to get her excited was to tell her that it was a Disney music concert that happens to be at the Phoenix Symphony. That did the trick! She put on a special outfit and we headed for downtown Phoenix to embark upon our adventure.
We entered the beautiful reception area and were entertained by all of the young children dressed up in anticipationof seeing their favorite princess. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I was thrilled to be enjoying this time with my daughter, but sad to realize how fast time passes. I reminisced silently about a time when she would have worn her princess costume waiting for her favorite character to arrive. I did my best to stay present while we shared a gourmet chocolate chip cookie and awaited the entrance.
They opened the doors and we entered the grand Symphony Hall. My daughter, Bryanna, was excited to see the big stage and the large video screen with Mickey’s ears welcoming us. We found our seats among a full house and read through the program for what was to come.
The concert began with an orchestra of 70+ musicians playing a majestic overture of several well-known Disney songs. It grabbed everyone’s attention from the start and the loud cheering was proof the audience was delighted. It soon became a multimedia experience with scenes playing on the big screen, while the orchestra performed songs from popular Disney movies. It was truly captivating!
To add to the excitement, there were four vocalists who sang various songs as solos, duets and as a group. One of the vocalists, Juliana Hansen, was the recipient of the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award for Best Vocalist. Whitney Claire Kaufman recently completed two years with the Broadway smash-hit “Mamma Mia!” Her performance as Sophie garnered rave reviews from the Boston Globe. Aaron Phillips also has many accomplishments to mention, including finishing the second National Tour of “Click, Clack, Moo.” And Andrew Johnson has toured all over the world as a lead vocalist and dancer, and his performances have been broadcasted on national and international television. You currently can catch him as a background vocalist and dancer on FOX's “The X Factor.” Not only are the performers extremely talented, but also huge Disney fans. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
To paint a better picture, imagine having the Phoenix Symphony orchestra playing while a large overhead screen is displaying all of your Disney favorites and four entertainers on stage are singing and acting out the songs. It was truly outstanding! Each song built on the previous and we could hardly wait to hear what was coming next.
Audience participation was encouraged with words to songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” from the musical “Mary Poppins” displayed on the big screen. It was a close call as to whether the parents or kids were enjoying it more. We didn’t want to see the show end. But when it did, the standing ovation it received from the audience was heartwarming.
It’s the first time the Phoenix Symphony performed “Disney in Concert,” and the first time the production had been to Phoenix. I wish I could tell you to go book your tickets now, but the show is over for the season. They do want to bring it back, but a final date has not been confirmed.
While you are waiting for “Disney in Concert” to return, be sure to check out the next 2014/2015 Family Series. It will feature four concerts geared for family audiences. These hour-long concerts take place on Sunday afternoons and are preceded by an hour of pre-concert activities such as arts, crafts and our guest favorite—Instrument Petting Zoo. Next season features a Harry Potter-themed show, “The Polar Express,” a concert with 80’s music and a shortened production of “Oliver!”
Our newfound love for the Phoenix Symphony will certainly bring us back to another concert again soon. We hope to see you and your little ones there, too.
Subscriptions to this series start at $29 for kids, $39 for adults, and single tickets start at $11.
Karen Cahn is the Director of the Advertising at the Arizona Office of Tourism. She enjoys spending time with her family and exploring all the fun activities that Arizona has to offer.