“Laughter on the levee, no one’s heart is heavy…”
In this patriotic week, I realized that I am long overdue to spotlight several of our bass-singing Dapper Dans of Disneyland – those staples of Main Street, U.S.A.!
These talented low-vocal red-and-white-costumed fellows provide much of the levity and comedy in the Dapper Dan routines, so I wanted to give a quick shout-out to a few more of these talented guys!
First up is Dapper Ken – Ken is a jovial gentleman for whom Dappering seems to be not just second nature, but first! Some people just seem so right in their roles and Ken is one of them! He’s got a lovely warm voice and an equally warm personality to go with it – with just a hint (okay, maybe more than a hint) of mischief in his eyes as well. He’s particularly fun to watch during the Halloween Dapper sets. I always wind up grinning when Ken is performing!
Next up is Dapper Wesley – Wesley is simply the one of the most perfect period performers at the park! He is the epitome of mid-century middle America and every time I watch him I keep thinking it’s like he stepped right out of “Leave it To Beaver” or a Jimmy Stewart film and into 1955 Disneyland Park. Watching Wesley is a total time warp for me and a great atmospheric addition whenever he’s there.
On certain occasions, Wesley has also been known to sing baritone – such as one day when he was found in that blue-striped role while another bass, Dapper Frank (a returned but still rare to spot longtime Dapper Dan), was in red! Continue reading
On April 10, 1992, Disney released the musical film Newsies. While by no means an instant hit, it nonetheless developed a strong cult following. In 2012, a stage version began performances on Broadway. Also in 2012, the Red Car Trolley News Boys began their daily show at Disney California Adventure and it is still one of my favorites at the Disneyland Resort.
So in honor of this auspicious occasion, I shall seize the day and celebrate one of my favorite News Boys… or should I say gals?
Yes, today I’m throwing my two cents to Sal!
Personally, I’ve always thought Sal has the most challenging part in the show – not only is she dancing (and selling papers) with the guys, but she gets to participate in the more acrobat moments of their set – at various points winding up sitting on the guys’ shoulders or being tossed from one set of performers to another or getting carried and twirled around! Talk about confidence! Continue reading
A year ago this week, one of my favorite shows and venues in Disneyland Park closed its gates forever – on January 10, 2016, The Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue and its wonderful show with Miss Chris and Tex Tumbleweed entertained and fed guests for the last time.
I still don’t think there’s a location, restaurant or show that compares in the Disneyland Resort (though there may be one or two at Walt Disney World Resort) and I miss it greatly.
In retrospect, although I visited quite often, especially in its last two years of operation, I wish I’d visited more and I’m very sad I never took video there as I was too busy eating the wonderful food and watching the terrific show!
But no matter how often you visit a show at a Disney park, there are some performers you may see fairly often and others that seem like they are as rare a sighting as a unicorn.
In honor of the BBQ and its show, today I’ll flashback to the one and only time I was lucky enough to catch this guy there and share a few pics from the day. Continue reading
“Our time is running out…”
Yes, you will feel like you stepped through the looking glass as we take one more farewell look back at some of the amazing performers from The Mad T Party, whose stage has now gone the way of all things park-past…
Today we’ll turn a spotlight on:
Hatter singing his face off – and ours, too – while Dormouse peeks around from the side!
This guy brought me to tears with the beauty of his farewell speeches both at the end of the run of the original Mad T Party as well as the Diamond Mad T Party. Somehow he managed to captured the emotions, the gravity and the beauty of the experience and express it so eloquently to the fans both new and old. And I’ll never forget those moments.
But what I remember most about him on the Mad T stage was not his singing and hosting talent (which he had in abundance), so much as the incredible generosity of spirit he had towards his co-host Alice. He was always beyond gracious and encouraging letting her take the spotlight and show what she could do, and it is a rare kind of class and selflessness in a lead performer to give someone else the space to shine. He repeatedly impressed me with his positive, respectful, and supportive treatment of his fellow cast. Kudos. Continue reading
“We are not permanent – we’re temporary, temporary…”
The Hollywood Backlot – former home of The Mad T Party.
Over the past few weeks, construction (destruction?) in the Hollywood Backlot at Disney California Adventure has taken down the last remnants of the dance parties other than the often-shuttered drink stands. The Mad T Party main stage that also once hosted the ElecTRONica dancers is no more.
It’s a painful unreality now to walk back there, where once a magically mad band, DJ’s, dancers, aerialists, flamingoes and a WhoRU entertained the evening crowds.
Over the past two years on this site, I’ve celebrated a lot of the incredibly talented folks who performed regularly there, but I never quite got around to featuring everyone. So this weekend, I’d like to give a few more T shout-outs to a few more folks who kept the party going over the years. I don’t have pictures of the entire cast there, so we’re missing at least a Cheshire Cat as well as some of the dance crew.
But here are a couple more folks who we’ll give a tip of a haT to including:
Hatter and Caterpillar.
This guy always kept the ladies in the crowd cheering between his dance moves and his husky voice. Continue reading
“And he’s doing that for us right now!”
Dapper Drew of the Dapper Dans of Disneyland is another of the multi-color, multiple role Dappers. You can find him some days singing lead in purple and on others singing tenor in yellow and on occasion singing baritone in blue.
And while he is talented in the vocal parts of each role, in the past few months I’ve seen him most often as a tenor and that means in the role of the jokester.
Each Dapper Dan can interpret their role by bringing their own style and personality to it. So a punchline delivered by different performers can be said each time in a different tone.
And Dapper Drew telling jokes is the resident brat! (But adorably so!)
When he delivers the teasing jokes about his fellow Dapper Dans during their repartee, his style is to take gleeful joy in poking fun at the others!
It’s always naughty but never mean-spirited because he has this elfin prankishness that allows you to forgive pretty much anything he says because it’s got such a grin and a wink behind it! He just takes such pride in the mischief and in the bad jokes he gets to tell that you can’t help but laugh (or groan!).
That smile means trouble with a capital T.
But while puckish troublemaker and happy bad pun teller are some of my favorite qualities about a Dapper Drew performance, there is more to him than just the humor. Continue reading
“She’ll do as she will and she’ll say as she please…”
Vivi on the violin!
I’m always excited to see Vivi Blackheart bringing her extra measure of girl power to The Bootstrappers at Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. There is pure confidence in every performance she gives and she’s a strong personality and musical match for every man in this crew.
She easily holds her own against the guys – and she’s probably more intimidating than any of them – you wouldn’t want to mess with Vivi! She often seems to be musically “dueling” with the fellows and as far as I’m concerned, she wins!
She is so fierce that plenty of the time they just get out of her way and let her play! And I always look forward to her solos.
Playing behind her back! Really, she’s still playing a song!
This girl is simply a fiend on the fiddle the way her fingers fly over the strings. I’ve seen her perform while doing all sorts of tricks from jumping to playing without a moment’s hesitation with the violin behind her back!
She’s easily one of the most accomplished musicians in the group. Continue reading