Monday, May 23, 2016

When You Wish...

by Al Kessel

Joyce and I, as so many of you know, are HUGE Disney fans. We love the Resorts, the movies, the merchandise, and of course, Walt Disney. For us, he epitomized fun and success. He stared adversity in the eyes and succeeded, when most said he'd fail. He did things his way, despite the naysayers, and when his way didn't work, he'd reinvent and go again. These are the things that catapulted Walt Disney to the level of LEGEND. And you can see this all for yourself. Well, sort of. In the new musical play, When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney (playing at the Phoenix Theater May 18 - June 12, 2016, you can witness for yourself, Walt's trials, tribulations, triumphs and victories, all set to some very fun, toe-tapping musical numbers!

When You Wish is the story of Walt Disney, from his early days as a young animator at his company Laugh O Gram Studios, all the way to the opening of Walt's beloved Disneyland. 

The show is presented in a very appealing way. It's narrated by Walt's brother and business partner Roy Disney. It all starts with Walt trying to sell Roy on the concept of Disneyland, then, we flash back to 1908 with a six year old Walt drawing his cartoons on the family home, barn, and toilet paper! 

The show progresses through the major milestones throughout Walt's life, such as Laugh O Gram Studios, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt's famous move to California, Disney Brothers Studios, meeting and marrying his soul mate Lillian, the creation of Mickey Mouse and ultimately the opening of Disneyland (with Walt reciting the now famous "To All Who Come To This Happy Place, Welcome..." speech). 

Eighteen original (and very well done) musical numbers and dances, help to present Walt's story in a very fun and enjoyable way. I don't usually enjoy musicals, but When You Wish is just one of those you can't help but love! 

Veteran Broadway actor Joey Sorge plays Walt, and although at
Joey Sorge as Walt Disney
first I thought "hey, he doesn't look like Walt at all!", he quickly won me (and Joyce) over with his command of the role. Joey's performance makes When You Wish so special. Sydney Marie Hawes portrayed Lillian and Andy Umberger (another veteran of Broadway) portrays Roy Disney. I must add that Andy Umberger does a wonderful job as Roy, and he and Joey are very convincing. In fact, we quickly got lost in their performance and the ease in which they played off of one another. The total cast consists of 20 actors/actresses and they all make this show a pleasure to watch. 
Walt and Roy 

When You Wish was created by Dean McClure, who wrote the play as well as all the musical numbers. Mr. McClure's journey to bring When You Wish to life is quite interesting. Born out of a desire to see Walt's story on Broadway, Dean conducted intensive research and began writing his play. 

When You Wish is directed by Larry Raben, the musical director is Alan Ruch and the choreographer is Lee Martino. The show is broken into two acts, with act one running one hours 20 minutes, and act two running one hour. Although coming in at two hours 20 minutes, it sure didn't seem like it! Time VERY well spent. When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney is playing at the Phoenix Theater (in Phoenix, Arizona) from May 18 - June 12, 2016, with multiple show times, including matinees. For tickets visit The Phoenix Theater

All in all, When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney is a fabulous musical, and in our opinion, a must see event. Well acted, well choreographed and well presented, we give this show 5 stars out of 5! 

**Joyce and I were given tickets in exchange for an honest review.

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