“When You Wish” Musical – The Story Of Walt Disney

The tale of Walt Disney and his brother Roy – their hardships and achievements – came alive on stage at this Pre-Broadway production. “When You Wish,” the musical captivated audiences from October 11 – November 3 at The Freud Playhouse at UCLA. When you live in LA, you realize how superb the acting, singing, and dancing are, and how lucky we are to live in a land full of performers. This show brought to mind that for most people, success is not an easy path. Disney had a vision before his time ofWYW_A445 copy making magical ideas possible. Where his brother Roy was known for the business side of things, Walt Disney dreamed of ideas that seemed absurd at the time. Walt came from a humble background in Kansas City to eventually open Disneyland in 1955 after creating numerous characters, cartoons and shows that enthralled a nation, from Mickey Mouse to The Mickey Mouse Club. The musical brings to life a man with a vision and the tenacity to bring it to life, although suffering many setbacks and struggles.

In 2 1/2 hours over twenty actors showcased their divine singing and dancing abilities with fourteen original songs with a live orchestra.  The singing was so moving and the dancing incredible. I felt lucky to be at such an intimate show with such talent. This is the kind of show people pay top dollar for in a packed house in NYC. “When You Wish” featured Tim Martin Gleason (Walt Disney), Any Umberger (Roy Disney), Brandi Burkhardt (Lillian Disney), Melissa Fahn (Flora/Edna), Norman Large (Character Man), and Louis Pardo (Ub Iwerks).  Act I included Walt Disney’s years from 1908-1928 and Act II showcased his life from 1928 – 1955.

WYW_A254 copyThe musical was a ten year dream come true for the playwright/composer Dean McClure who co-produced the show with performer, author, film and TV star Pat Boone as well as Robert Rudolph.  Dean McClure wondered why a musical about Walt Disney had not be written after watching his daughter perform in a Disneyland parade. After eighteen months of research and writing the first draft of the book and composing the initial six songs, Dean introducted the musical to Larry Gordon (Field of Dreams) who returned favorable and encouraging comments.  Dean was lucky to have the late Roy Disney as his creative guide, and was granted permission to proceed with the show from Diane, Walt Disney’s daughter.

Directed by Larry Raben and choreographed by Lee Martin, this talent-filled musical is a wonderful treat for the whole family. “When You Wish,” dreams do come true!

Peter Gibson, playwright/composer Dean McClure, and writer/guest Melissa Curtin (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

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