In 1989 Disney released The Little Mermaid, and to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra performed Alan Menken’s uplifting, Academy Award-winning soundtrack.
Led by Nicholas Buc, WASO transported the lucky audience straight under the sea. The score, played in tandem with the animation, featured the three iconic songs by lyricist Howard Ashman: Part of Your World, Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl.
The seven songs featured in The Little Mermaid were written and honed over a period of eighteen months. During that time, the songwriters set up in a “music room” at the animation studio facility in California, where lyricists spent at least two weeks out of every month perfecting the songs.
The auditorium was overflowing—no pun intended—with buzzing children, laughing teenagers and reminiscing parents. A beautiful red-wigged mermaid greeted everyone walking past the box office, and little girls—and boys—wearing mermaid tails promptly bee-lined (fish-lined?) to take pictures with her.
The performance began with an encouragement from Buc to participate, sing along and cheer at Ariel. This was so precise at times, I would forget it was a live version rendition, but each deep note from the cellos would bring the memory of the orchestra right back. A particular highlight of mine was the kazoo solo that echoed through the theatre, mimicking Sebastian’s little trumpet announcement.
The music for The Little Mermaid won two Golden Globes, two Grammys, and two Academy Awards. Menken and Ashman even picked up an Oscar for the famed Under the Sea and the beautiful score won Menken a second Oscar.
With tickets ranging from $45 to just under $90, you might think you’d prefer to spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere rather on a movie you can watch at home. However, you will not be left unsatisfied because the payment reflects the skill-set and dedication of the orchestra themselves. To quote the program: “The Orchestra plays a central role in the vibrancy of our creative state. They are also supported by hundreds of visiting artists, alongside the volunteers of the WASO Chorus to create exceptional performances for hundreds of thousands of people each year.”
One of my earliest memories involves me standing precariously on the edge of a red couch dramatically belting out the words to Part of Your World; and while no-one was belting out any lyrics during the performance, it was equally memorable.
Head to WASO’s website to see what’s on for the rest of 2019!