Disney Live! Mickey's Music Festival

Written by Jeremy Desmon, with songs composed by Alan Menken and Douglas B Green, Randy Newman and lyrics by Tim Rice, Howard Ashman, Randy Newman and Douglas B Green and others

Produced by Feld Entertainment

Wembley Arena and touring

(2011)

Review by Sandra Giorgetti

The serried ranks of police officers outside Wembley Park station were not there for the nappied and Woody t-shirted kiddies making their way to the Arena but for the beer-soaked and scarved hoards heading for the Stadium. Nonetheless it was an ominous welcome.

With the football fans left the other side of the open air bar, Mickey's Music Festival got off to a lively start if a bit daft with Minnie saying "I just love to rock and roll" as if she is about to launch into a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and "… put another dime in the juke box baby" or have some sex and drugs and ...

Drugs might have come in handy to appreciate Goofy playing a rubber chicken in a scene on the theme of "anything can be a musical instrument" but the best we got was the rub of a lamp that brought us a high energy genie with a line in lame jokes - of Donald Duck: "I like to see him quack up".

The ensuing Aladdin-based sketch though brought a colourful snap with a marvellously flipping acrobatic magic carpet and the back-projection came into its own as a setting to 'A Whole New World'. The first part of a potted The Little Mermaid followed, which had the daughters of Triton lip-synching 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)' (originally by American R&B singer Beyoncé) and which closed the first act with an underwater-world sequence of luminescent fish, all of which had the under-fives on their feet and somewhat agog.

The second act opened to the smell of chips and a fish - well, Sebastian the lobster really, playing a 'where's the shell game' with Mickey and friends, which continued the aquatic theme and led into a roller-blading eel-cum-croc dance which involved the sea witch, Ursula (looking a lot like Aladdin's genie in drag) and some flamingos which I was rather taken by.

The marvellous Toy Story was represented initially by a snappy parade-ground style marching dance of the soldiers multiplied by synchronised back-projected figures, but it rapidly went downhill with Jessie, Woody (complete with plastic hair) and Bullseye doing fancy footwork with a skipping rope and a ghastly hoe-down thing that created a veritable tot disco of clapping and stomping pre-schoolers. Goofy, however, was at hand to trigger a meteor storm (I kid you not) and the young ones loved the barrage of huge beige beach balls that bounced into the audience and heralded the entrance of Buzz Lightyear from Star Command.

The finale was a medley that included 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' and 'Who Let the Dogs Out?' and the "Big Cheese of Rock and Roll" none other than Mickey Mouse (no, really I don't think so) announcing, predictably, the platitudinous "music bring us all together".

In my much younger days when I used to say something rather unlikely or unpredictable, the parental apology was always 'she was dropped on her head as a child'; I now have the excuse of being hit on the head during a meteor storm to explain why I didn't entirely dislike Mickey's Music Festival. As well as the costume designs of Cynthia Nordstrom which struck just the right chord, I enjoyed the energy and skill of the hard working cast who flipped, cart-wheeled and danced all the while lip synching to the pre-recorded dialogue and song tracks. I would like to credit particular performances by name but the producers have seen fit to list only the "original cast" in the exorbitantly priced £8 programme so the best I can do is to say Buzz and Aladdin.

Unlike Disney On Ice - 100 Years of Magic which aimed to have something for everyone, this show is very much for the pre-schoolers, and with only Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Toy Story covered there is a risk that some will be disappointed that their favourites are not included. In the end the biggest disappointment for me was the absurdity that a Music Festival could have no live music or singing.

"Disney Live! Mickey's Music Festival" is on tour - next at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, BT Convention Centre in Liverpool, and Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle