Special to theadvocate.com
Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town this December. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and the rest will bring the energy and fun of “Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival” to New Orleans on Dec. 14 and Baton Rouge on Dec. 19 and 20. These stops are part of a 29-city tour across America, after which the show will head for Mexico and South America.
For Christina Gaspar, who plays Princess Jasmine in the show, all this traveling is exciting.
“I have a wonderful, hectic, adventurous schedule, but I cannot wait. I love traveling, so this is perfect for me,” she said.
Gaspar, who started dancing at age 3 and worked at a dance studio before joining the “Disney Live!” cast, had never been outside the country before joining the show. An audition in Chicago changed all that.
“I was going to school and teaching dance, and my fellow co-workers told me about it and said I should come along,” Gaspar said. “It was kind of a last-minute decision to go and audition, and it ended up working out for the best for me. It was a dream come true.”
True to its name, “Mickey’s Music Festival” is more like a dance party than a concert, with dance numbers and impressive choreography mixed in with classic Disney songs like “Under the Sea” and “A Whole New World,” as well as a few fun homages, such as the cast dancing along to Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” when Aladdin’s Magic Carpet takes the stage.
“The show is very high-energy, and it’s also interactive, so the audience is always involved and encouraged to participate with the music. It’s great because it has the classical Disney songs, but it’s Mickey’s music festival, so all the songs have a rock and roll or remixed feel to them that brings them to life,” she said.
While the show is designed to be fun for the whole family, it is especially appealing for young children.
When asked if she had been a fan of Disney movies since she was a kid, Gaspar said, “Yes! I probably watched a Disney movie every single day when I was growing up, and Aladdin was one of my favorite movies.
“I actually had a Princess Jasmine lunchbox that I took to school with me every single day, and when I ended up getting this contract my mother brought it up from the basement and gave it to me when I went off on tour,” Gaspar said.
Bartley Mullin, who previously worked at Walt Disney World but had long desired a role in a live traveling show, was happy to win the role of Woody from his favorite Disney Movie, “Toy Story.” Despite having previous experience as Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the Phineas and Ferb live show, Mullin found that playing a character like Woody offered some new challenges.
“Woody’s a ragdoll, so you have to embrace how a toy would move. A lot of it is loose limbs and you don’t always have the best posture -- you’re filled with stuffing after all,” he said.
The “Toy Story” segment of the “Disney Live!” show also features Buzz, Jessie and a whole platoon of dancing plastic army men, as well as Woody doing some rope tricks right out of a rodeo.
“I had to go to lasso boot camp. The expert hadn’t come in yet, so I was just playing around and joking with my director, saying, ‘What would you do if I just nailed this right now?’ And in the first couple of throws I nailed it, but then I couldn’t do it again. But I’ve refined it by now,” he said.
“Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival” promises fun and excitement for the whole family, and Gaspar and Mullin especially love the “full circle” feeling of performing the songs they loved as kids in front of a new generation of audiences.
“I love performing for kids. I remember going to the “Disney on Ice” shows when I was little. When we’re up on stage and look down, we can see all these kids dancing and singing along, and even their parents are joining in. It’s just really rewarding. You know that you’re making their day,” Mullin said.
Gaspar also fondly remembers being taken to Disney’s live shows when she was a child, and thinks that “Disney Live!” will be just as magical as the movies by which it was inspired.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the memories you’ll take from it will last forever,” she said.
“Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival” will be at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on Dec 14 and the River Center in Baton Rouge on Dec. 19 and 20. More information about the show can be found at http://disney.go.com/disneylive/