ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra goes Disney
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a night that promises to show you the world (yes, shining, shimmering, splendid!) with songs that haven’t lost their magic, like those tales as old as time. Actually, make that two nights of Disney songs galore as the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga stages Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time on Nov. 8 (8 p.m.) and Nov. 9 (2 p.m.) at the CCP Main Theater.

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra has been relentless in its pursuit to introduce orchestral music to the masses since it was established two years ago. The 42-piece orchestra, which is fully-booked until next year, has been alternating its classical concerts with pop presentations that showcased Hollywood movie themes or paid tribute to OPM stalwarts, etc. (It has also been doing outreach shows called Musicoveries and has gone pop in its debut album Decades of OPM.) This time, the orchestra goes Disney again as a follow-up to last year’s The Magical Music of Disney.

The new show is a full-on concert (whereas the predecessor was mostly instrumental) featuring Kapamilya singers Karylle, Morisette and Sam Concepcion (with his brother Red) performing pieces popularized by Disney princesses, princes and even sidekicks from such animated classics and hits Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Tangled, Frozen, among others. Also tapped for the show are theater actresses Carla Guevara-Laforteza and Caisa Borromeo, as well as new discoveries Antonio Ferrer and Jillian Ita-as.

According to Salonga, the concert is fully-licensed by Disney and is the first to be staged in Asia and only the second in the world.

The orchestra’s managing director Mickey Muñoz added, “From the arrangements, to the script and the videos, they’re all from Disney. They shipped everything four months ago. (After) we did the Magical Music of Disney exactly a year ago, I went to Disney (headquarters) in Burbank and we looked at the inventory of the available Disney concerts, and this one actually is (good as) new as it’s a revised (version) because there has been Tale as Old as Time, but not yet with the Tangled and Frozen (two of Disney’s latest animated movies) themes.

“So, we are going to be the first one to stage it with the new songs/sequences already. In fact, the videos we will be using are newly-edited and the high-definition versions. It’s a try-out in Asia and it’s a second in a trilogy. We’re doing a third one next year, but it’s still confidential (the details).”

Muñoz also said that even the selection of singers had to first merit Disney’s approval. Disney also required that the singer must be “a cross between a theater performer and pop singer.”

The orchestra also had to formally request Disney to allow them to expand the line-up of artists. Muñoz said, “For those who want to do Tale as Old as Time in the future and in other countries, meron talaga silang four American singers that go with the package. But just for the Philippines, they said yes to the Filipino singers because we have a reputation (as performers). I think this is only the time we can employ local singers.”

What else to expect? During the preview, they made it clear that while the singers will be interpreting songs of Disney characters, it’s a concert and not a musical. So, you’re not going to expect Sam channeling the Beast while singing Beauty & the Beast’s haunting Tale as Old as Time with Morisette, or the cast in harem pants while doing A Whole New World from Aladdin, but do watch out for the classically-trained baritone Antonio taking on the Genie (originated by the late Hollywood star Robin Williams), and Bituin Escalante’s special appearance in a rousing number from The Lion King. These are just a few of the highlights in the Tale as Old as Time show. And with many Filipinos growing up on the music of Disney, Salonga said that even if this is an orchestral concert, mounted at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the audience is very much welcome to sing along as in pop or rock concerts. He said,  “If they feel like doing (it), (they can) do it. Learn the rules later, get into the hall first, get into the habit of watching and participate if you want.”

As for the featured artists, they stressed that they are happy to be lending support because the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra remains to be the main attraction.

Sam said, “It’s a different experience singing all our favorite Disney songs live and with a full orchestra at that. I think that’s what people are gonna come for because the music really comes to life. The orchestra — they really are the stars, we’re just interpreting the songs.”

(Tickets are available at all Ticketworld outlets. For details, call 891-999 or visit the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Facebook page @ABSPhilharmonic.)

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