Hibriten students singing and dancing their way to Disney

Feb. 06, 2014 @ 05:29 PM

In Hibriten High School’s chorus room last week, students gathered around the piano and rehearsed a set of sweeping songs.

Chorus teacher Alyssa Lowe was multitasking, both directing and accompanying as her students practiced snippets of traditional choral music — the songs they plan to sing in Orlando this April at the annual Disney World Music Festival.

But to get to the festival, the students will dress up as Disney characters, hone their sword-fighting skills and rehearse songs that are decidedly less traditional — from “A Part of Your World” to “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”

The Hibriten chorus program, which has ballooned from 30 students to 70 in the last two years, is working to pay for its April trip through two Disney-themed fundraisers, both scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Hudson Uptown Building: a “Royal Tea” for kids at 1 p.m. and a “Magic Kingdom Dinner Theater” at 6:30 p.m.  

It’ll be a chance for the students to raise money for their trip, sure — but it’s also an opportunity to share music with the community, Lowe said.  

“We work hard every day in the classroom to improve our chorus program, and we all have a special place in our hearts for chorus,” junior Tiffany de Guzman said. “What I look forward to the most is hopefully giving a performance that will show our hard work, as well as our love and passion for music, to the audience.”

The students’ Royal Tea is aimed at children from kindergarten to sixth grade and has a pretty simple goal: giving kids a chance to meet their favorite Disney characters (or, if you want to be literal, the Hibriten chorus students in costume). The tea will feature a variety of Disney-themed activities, from dancing to sword fighting to a snowman-making station based on the recently released animated movie “Frozen.”

Later that night, the Magic Kingdom Dinner Theater will feature a lineup of Disney songs performed as solos, duets and ensemble pieces. Each student has a character — and they didn’t limit themselves to the human variety. In addition to Prince Eric, Ariel, Jasmine and the like, attendees will see such characters as Simba, Ursula and the Beast.  

For now, students are handling preparations for both events — and the songs are just a sliver of it. They’ve taken a group thrift-shopping trip in search of costumes. A soon-to-be Mulan is practicing her white-faced, red-lipped makeup. Former Hibriten theater students are coming in to teach the students how to sword-fight so they can pass that knowledge on (in safe, foam-sword form) at the Royal Tea. They’re even learning to waltz (that and the sword-fighting are particular points of enthusiasm among the students).  

Even as they work and prepare, there’s a common refrain among the students: This is a whole lot of fun. Take it from senior Haley Baskin who — this will become important in just a moment — looks a lot like the character Merida in Disney’s “Brave”:

“If I wasn’t in the show, I would go, so I could dress up like ‘Brave.’”