In a term where one is more likely to fight over library desks than concert tickets, I was at once heartened and bewildered by the snaking queues of giddy spectators who lined the cobbles of Trinity’s Great Court. Piercing shrieks ensued as appropriately-garbed musicians and singers made their way into the college’s intimate chapel. Now into its second year, Disney at Trinity has established itself as the purveyor of wholesome, nostalgia-inspiring fun, whose eclectic programme, eye-wateringly sparkling costumes, and powerful orchestral arrangements toe the precarious line between carefully choreographed spectacle and unashamed cheese.
There is something bizarre about entering into a hallowed space, steeped in history in order to revel in the comforting choruses of mermaids, fictional princesses and anthropomorphic figures. In spite of this, Trinity Chapel proved a suitably dignified space in which to stage an exposition of timeless items of musical history that have attained near-cult status among several generations.
The programme was concise, yet comprehensive, with classics ranging from Mary Poppins’ Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to Enchanted’s saccharine Happy Little Working Song. Several lesser-known melodies also featured, such as The Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast and Into the Sunlight from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, allowing for a more nuanced and insightful exploration of the extensive canon of Disney music that fills many with near-debilitating pangs of nostalgia.
The evening could have begun with a head-first foray into cheese-territory; instead, a haunting and powerful rendition of the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s Bells of Notre Dame inspired awed silence among the audience. The rousing vocals of Sam Oladeinde and Joey Akubeze suscited a collective shudder of sheer musical ecstasy among the audience, with their purity and clarity of tone enveloping the chapel in a cloak of suspended excitement. Endearingly anachronistic dance moves courtesy of the evening’s Mary Poppins (Emma Powell) and Bert (Henry Jenkinson) sparked much mirth, as did the mawkish and unassuming Jonny Hyde’s understated rendition of The Jungle Book's The Bare Necessities. It is a testament to the musical talent of the soloists that it is difficult to choose a standout performance, although Lauren Hutchinson’s emotional Let it Go and Freddie Tapner’s wonderfully camp rendition of Aladdin’s Prince Ali proved particularly popular with audience members, with one enthusiastic spectator gushing over his “amazing” vocals and loud orange suit.
Under the directorship of the effusive Simon Nathan, the equally spectacularly-clad Pops Orchestra were never at risk of being upstaged by the stellar vocals. A seventy-strong ensemble of musicians recreated the music soundtracks to perfection, whilst the supporting – but no less vital – role of the vocal chorus is also to be applauded, injecting tension and gravitas into the solo acts.
A pre-prepared encore is testament to the confidence of the orchestra, and the rapturous applause and standing ovation with which it was met speaks volumes for the outstanding calibre of the evening’s musical offerings. However, perhaps the clearest mark of the recital’s popularity was its infectious power to transform the mood of the audience: when throngs of stressed and disillusioned students leave the chapel reeling with enthusiasm, you’re definitely doing something right.