Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke could be resting on his laurels, but the talented actor, comedian, and singer is still entertaining audiences with his popular vocal quartet, Dick Van Dyke & The Vantastix. Tonight Dick and his cohorts—three renowned west coast musicians, Mike Mendyke, Bryan Chadima and Eric Bradley—brought harmony and melodic fun to Stage 23 at D23 Expo 2011. “Wow, what an audience!” Dick exclaimed after the audience jumped to its feet and welcomed the foursome.
Singing well-known Disney hits, pop standards, and songs from Dick’s varied entertainment career, the quartet charmed the packed audience with their humor and exuberance. Much of Dick Van Dyke & The Vantastix’s song roster is based on Put On A Happy Face, the quartet’s inaugural a cappella album. This evening’s repertoire included “Bear Necessities,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Jolly Holiday,” a Sesame Street medley including “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” “Accentuate the Positive,” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” to name a few.
Between the great music, choreography and anecdotes, there were some touching moments, too. A poignant rendition of “Baby Mine” from Dumbo captivated the audience.
Dick Van Dyke & The Vantastix is the result of a chance meeting between the Mary Poppins star and Mendyke at a Malibu coffee shop in September 2000. With the addition of Chadima and Bradley, the group started “just for fun,” gathering weekly for pizza and singing around Dick’s piano, and soon built up an impressive repertoire of children’s songs and standards.
After their first casual performance during the wrap party for Van Dyke’s long-running mystery TV series Diagnosis Murder, the group began to get requests to appear at charity events and benefits. They have performed at the City of Hope Hospital; the Beverly Hilton for the Society of Singers Concert honoring Dame and Dick’s fellow Disney Legend Julie Andrews; the Hollywood Bowl as part of an evening of TV theme songs; and at the awarding of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Rose Marie, who appeared with Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The hourlong show closed with a special presentation, in which Dick and the Vantastix became honorary D23 members. Then for an encore the quartet performed a Mary Poppins medley of “Chim Chim Cheree,” “Stepping Time,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and a rap cover of Spoonful of Sugar that left the audience in stitches, and judging by the reaction on Dick’s face he enjoyed the evening as much as we all did.
By Marina Draskovic
Put on a Happy Face is available for purchase in the D23 Expo Treasure Trove store.