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An Afternoon with the Sherman Brothers
Robert and Richard Sherman are the songwriting team that have created some of the most well-recognized Disney music. Their optimistic tunes have been written for film and for attractions.
When the Disneyland Line -the Disneyland cast member newsletter- announced that there would be a cast-exclusive presentation and book signing with the Shermans on Wednesday, December 8, I was happy to have the time free to go.
Cast member filed into the Team Disney Anaheim Auditorium, where enlarged pictures of the brothers, some with Walt Disney, were displayed. A Yamaha keyboard was set up on stage with several chairs. Imagineer David Mumford, collector, author, and unofficial Disney historian, played host with co-editor Jeff Kurtti assisting. Their co-editor, Imagineer Bruce Gordon, made an appearance, but had work to attend to and wasn't part of the presentation.
The session was informal, Richard at the keyboard, Robert sitting down next to Jeff and then David, each taking turns talking. The Shermans would often finish each other's sentences. All David had to do is ask a single question and the Shermans could run with it for several minutes, talking and performing, despite being a little under the weather.
The brothers talked about working with Walt Disney. They went over how they got hired in the first place, how Marry Poppins, the Parent Trap, and Winnie the Pooh came together, and played songs that didn't make it into any films.
At one point, David announced that he had a surprise for the brothers, and invited Pam from WDI up on stage. I first met Pam almost ten years ago, and knew that she could sing, but I hadn't known that she used to perform at Disneyland Park and I was totally unprepared for what was in store.
Pam ended up singing for and with the Sherman brothers, including Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. We were treated to a song what was meant for Mary Poppins called "In the Land of Sand", but it ended up being Kaa's song "Trust In Me". Pam is a great singer and it was a real treat to hear her. She works behind the scenes in the upper levels of Walt Disney Imagineering but has contributed her singing voice to park attractions.
When the brothers talked about "It's a Small World" and how the need for the song came about, they solicited audience participation. We all sang and clapped along.
There were two extra special moments. One was when the
brothers performed "Feed the Birds" after explaining how Walt would request it
and what the song means. Finally, the brothers talked excitedly about the upcoming Tigger
movie. They performed two songs from the film; a lonely song about Tigger realizing that
perhaps it isn't so good to be "the only one", and a happy song about the
meaning of family.
It was an unforgettable experience, and it was topped off by the book signing. _Walt's Time - Before and Beyond_ by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman, edited by Bruce Gordon, David Mumford, & Jeff Kurtti is published by Camphor Tree Publishers. It is a must-have book for any fan of Disney music or the Shermans, as it pours over their careers and is loaded with anecdotes and color pictures.
Everyone lined up to have Richard, Robert, David, and Jeff sign their books. Some of us hung around to chat with each other a bit about the upbeat and inspiring music of the Sherman brothers. It really is a great, big, beautiful tomorrow!