Cartoon stars shine

Cartoon stars shine

Mickey, Donald, Goofy - even Woody and Buzz - are coming alive in a smash-hit Asian road show

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A lively cavalcade of popular Disney characters have been brought to life on stage, much to the delight of Asian audiences.
A lively cavalcade of popular Disney characters have been brought to life on stage, much to the delight of Asian audiences.
Photo: Disney Live
Ever noticed how someone yawning triggers others to yawn too? Or how a smile seemingly lures others to follow? But what about dance? There's no scientific evidence, but I suspect there, too, is a link between seeing and doing.

Proof: Disney Live! Mickey's Rockin' Road Show.

The show was performed in Chengdu last weekend on the Asian leg of its world tour. And from the reaction of the near-capacity crowd, you'd be inclined to agree that dance is, in fact, infectious.

"I really enjoy seeing the different types of reactions depending on where we are," says Paul Norman, company manager of Feld Entertainment, the touring stage company responsible for producing Disney Live shows. "China's been a very pleasant surprise. I've expected them to be reserved but they've not been. They've been up with us, singing along with us, and clapping and bouncing with Tigger."

Indeed, the venue resembled an interactive party more than a sit-down show. The majority of the young ones were standing, with a large number dancing and prancing along the aisles of Jincheng Art Palace.

Not even during the intermission did the fervour die down. At times security had to step in to restrain over-zealous children from going berserk and climbing over the barrier to the stage.

Disney has always had a knack for getting children excited. From their films to theme parks to merchandise, the Disney brand has always been synonymous with engaging family entertainment. But children are not the only ones hooked. Plenty of adults grew up watching Mickey, Goofy and Donald on television: they too have developed a lasting bond with their favourite characters. Then there's the enduring educational appeal of the stories and the timeless charm of the characters.

"Disney messages are so good for young ones because there's nothing controversial and they always send a good life message to children," explains Norman. "They're reflected in their personalities and their friends' personalities. Goofy is goofy and Donald is very dramatic. But that message that gets sent to them through all these story lines and antics is just so positive for parenting and children."

The show follows Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald (aka the Fab 4) as they embark on a journey to find performers for their talent show. Lo and behold, they come across some familiar faces in Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, Cinderella and Tigger, before recruiting them for the grand finale.

The Toy Story gang performs the variety section of the show. Woody can be seen roping, while Buzz shows off his juggling and unicycling skills. At one point, in true Buzz fashion, he's even airborne. But surprisingly, it's Tigger doing his upbeat, hip-hop jam that created the most excitement amongst the crowd.

The singing and dialogue is all pre-recorded so the language can be changed according to the audience. One of the highlights of the show is a giant video screen that serves as an animated background. Couple that with the brightly coloured costumes, a fresh story and familiar music, and it's no wonder the children in the audience had ants in their pants.

It remains to be seen if the show can generate the same excitement in Hong Kong. If you were in Chengdu last weekend, you'd be a fool to think otherwise.

Disney Live! Mickey's Rockin' Road Show plays at Star Hall, Kitec, in English with Chinese subtitles, from August 22 to 26. Tickets from HK Ticketing.

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