Review

Disney's When You Wish
by Children's Musical Theater San Jose

Disney has been busy converting their movies into many successful stage productions the last several years, and now theyíre working on a new one in coordination with Childrenís Musical Theatre-San Jose. CMTSJís artistic director Kevin R. Hauge helped transform Disneyís On The Record, featuring a medley of Disney tunes, into a new show. This new creation is set in the bedroom of three siblings whose dreams, and nightmares, begin coming true with the assistance of several Disney characters and dozens of Disney songs.

Itís off to a good start with the help of CMTSJís talented actors, designers, and crew. Three youth actors fill the roles of Brother, Sister, and Junior (the little brother) who find themselves to be sharing a dream together. But their sibling bickering and teasing might have to give way to sibling loyalty and love if theyíre going to escape some Disney villains.

Brother (Ryan Ballard) has big dreams of being a leader but is very insecure. Sister (Katherine Hauge) tends to tease her brother about his insecurity Ė especially as it pertains to a certain girl named Amanda (talented thirteen-year-old My-Hala Herrold who shines in her couple scenes including A Whole New World). Amanda is the girl that Brother has a secret crush on, inspiring such songs as Can You Feel the Love Tonight, I Wonít Say Iím in Love, Someday My Prince Will Come, and Once Upon a Dream (his Sister teasing him with Letís Get Together, and she could probably sneak in a little Kiss the Girl as well). This good-natured ribbing gives way to his wish coming true of being a leader (Prince Ali, I Wanna Be Like You, I Jut Canít Wait To Be King).

Then the kids are treated to a little dinner (Bella Notte, Les Poissons, Be Our Guest) and a fun floorshow by some dogs, cats, and birds (Everybody Wants to Be a Cat, In the Tiki Room, Heís a Tramp) before they escape to Sisterís dream. She dreams of big, exciting adventures (Just Around the Riverbend, Letís Go Fly a Kite, The Colors of the Wind, Under The Sea). Her longing for such adventures is expressed via Part of Your World, Reflection, and Out There. While little Juniorís got some similar dreams, with You Can Fly, A Whole New World, and Neverland.

But things get a little dicey when they find themselves in a land of nightmares (Pink Elephants on Parade), the kids eventually finding themselves tied up to a bed by crazed clowns. A frightened Junior (Charlie Ibsen) sings Will the Sun Every Shine Again, and then finds a way to break the spell and save them all, leading to some silliness (Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee, and, of course, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius). All of which is followed by some heartwarming friendship and a grand, magical finale.

The three siblings do a very nice job, with eighth grader Ryan Ballard as the eldest who is inspired by big dreams while dealing with some early teen angst. Eleven-year-old Katherine Hauge has no problem slamming her big brother, knowing exactly what buttons to push, while thirsting for travel and adventure. And nine-year-old Charlie Ibsen does very well as the cute little brother who may yet save the day with his young spirit and innocence.

Innocence? Well, he does have a bit of a crush on the lovely Pocahontas, one of the many professional adult performers in the show. Sara Stein is Pocahontas who is playful with her young admirer and sings some great renditions of the Pocahontas songs and others. As Mulan, Katherine Stein sings a beautiful Reflection, although the scene could probably be enhanced by having the Sister on stage during it, reacting to the song that may reflect her own inner thoughts. The chiseled physique of Frankie Mulcahy plays Tarzan to the beautiful Mary Theresa MacDavid as Jane in a strong rendition of Strangers Like Me. Ariel (Brittany Ogle) sings a mesmerizing Part of Your World, Elizabeth Santana has Snow White down, Nick Nakashima soars with his Quasimodo solo Out There, Justus Vierra leads the jazzy Aristocats band, and Michael Johnson fixes up the food in Les Poissons with Frenchy vigor, leading to the splashy Be Our Guest number that includes all manner of internationally costumed food Ė including some sushi.

Granting many of the other wishes are four versatile Dreamgivers, including Malinda DeRouen, RaMond Thomas, and Mark Martinez. Colette Phelps opens and closes the show as a flying fairy who reminds us that A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.

The visuals are excellent, featuring Chad Bonakerís fantastic lighting effects, George Pettitís set along with Josh Miyaliís visual effects, and several enchanting costumes by Marti Kranak. The script is a nice start, but could probably use some further tweaking. The first scenes are a bit frantic as the kids go from scared to excited to scared to excited, and overall it feels more like a musical revue than the heartwarming story that could probably be forged with a few changes. But perhaps a stronger storyline isnít needed. Most of the young kids in the audience seemed to be watching through the end, and even after the end when they were excited to see the characters from the beloved Disney movies waiting in the flesh to greet them outside the theatre, chatting and signing autographs and taking photos before the children headed out into a world where their sure to believe that their dreams can come true.

Performs April 17 - 26, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Brother: Ryan Ballard
Sister: Katherine Hauge
Junior: Charlie Ibsen
Dreamgivers:
Colette Phelps
Malinda DeRouen
RaMond Thomas
Mark Martinez
Quintet:
Kelly Black
Sarah Bylsma
John Bridges
Chris Janssen
Ian Leonard
Snow White/Poodle: Elizabeth Santana
Prince Charming: Michael Mulcahy
Amanda: My'Hala Herrold
Head Chef: Michael Johnson
Cool Cat: Justus Vierra
Tiki Bird: Jennifer Wilkinson
Tarzan/Ape: Frankie Mulcahy
Jane: Mary Theresa MacDavid
Pocahontas: Sara Stein
Ariel/Poodle: Brittany Ogle
Mulan/Siamese Cat: Katherine Stein
Quasi/Ape: Nick Nakashima
Cinderella/Siamese Cat: Shannon Self
Cinderella's Prince: Taggart Frost
Clown: Stephanie Ronco
Ensemble:
Patrick Ball
Taggart Frost
David Gromik
Ann Lucena
Mary Theresa MacDavid
Bryant Montalvo
Michelle Morgan
Frankie Mulcahy
Michael Mulcahy
Nick Nakashima
Brittany Ogle
Stephanie Schiro Ronco
Elizabeth Santana
Shannon Self
Katherine Stein
Sara Stein
Jennifer Wilkinson
Justus Vierra

Director and Choreographer: Kevin R. Hauge
Musical Director: Amie Jan
Vocal Director: Linda Middlebusher
Lighting Designer: Chad Bonaker
Costume Designer: Marti Kranak
Specialy Costumes: Lynne Fiore
Set Designer: George Pettit
Fight Choreographer: Brian Owens
Sound Designer: Brian Spencer

   

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