The 'Lion King' firework finale.  Photo courtesy jozjozjoz.Thanks to the concert we attended last night at the Hollywood Bowl, I have that famous Mary Poppins song embedded in my head today.

One of my favorite things about living in L.A. is being able to enjoy summer nights at the Bowl. A few months ago, I won a pair of tickets in an office lottery and I elected to go to Friday night’s concert featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, The Great American Concert with Fireworks – Walt Disney: 75 Years of Music. It was a good mix of Disney musical repertoire, sometimes accompanied with interesting Disney animation, but the highlight of the show was the incredible roster of guest artists. They included a special appearance of Dick Van Dyke singing selections from Mary Poppins, Mary Costa (the original voice of Sleeping Beauty, who narrated a special arrangement of “Bambi”), Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel), Judy Kuhn (voice of Pocahontas), Paige OĆ­Hara (voice of Belle), and Alan Menken (composer who performed a medley of his music for Disney). But that Dick Van Dyke… what a living treasure. And the fireworks were fun, too. The audience seemed to want more even after three encores.

John Mauceri gave his annual State of the Union Address from the point of view of the Mauceri Family, tying in amusing anecdotes about his family’s visits to the Magic Kingdom. My favorite line was when he described the best road sign he’d seen all year from his home state of New York. It was a sign at a highway offramp which said: “This exit is closed. Please use previous exit.” (That is almost as good as the roadsign Teebubble saw in Montreal.)

Even *I* am willing to put up with the annoying audiences (people who can’t carry a tune… or know the words… who insist on trying to sing along), the not-so-perfect performances, and of course, the lines at a sold-out event such as this one… just to enjoy a fun evening at the Bowl.

This was also the first time that I’ve been to the Bowl since the recent completion of the Hollywood Bowl Shell Project. I must admit the orchestra looks less crowded on stage, but I miss the spheres that used to hang inside the shell… and the “sonotubes” will take a bit of getting used to… but I can’t wait to go back again soon.