A new sound of music is tinkling out of Epcot’s American Adventure rotunda. Longtime Walt Disney World pianist Carol Stein began a new gig there this week with an All-American repertoire steeped in jazz, Broadway tunes and Disney classics.
Sometimes those genres overlap.
“I decided to put a little bit of a jazz twist to it,” Stein said before breaking into the playful “Winnie the Pooh,” a Sherman Brothers creation, this week.
Stein’s previous Epcot assignments were beneath the United Kingdom gazebo and inside the nearby Rose and Crown pub. She’s also known for her stretch as a pianist for Comedy Warehouse, the now-gone improv nightclub at Pleasure Island.
In American Adventure, the piano is set up on the east side of the rotunda area. The pianist alternates sets with Voices of Liberty, the long-running a cappella group that recently finished its stint outside at the America Gardens Theater and has moved back inside the rotunda,
The piano music soars through this acoustically happy place. Stein also talks through some history of the songs with an emphasis on jazz. “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” exhibit is nearby in the rotunda as well.
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In sets this week she played “I Wan’na Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book” (more Shermans), “He’s a Tramp” (written by Peggy Lee) with jazzy flair, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “My Romance,” a ballad. Stein merrily demonstrated different jazz styles in renditions of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
She took requests, which, given the setting, naturally resulted in Disney tunes such as “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” On Sunday, impromptu audience members started a “Sound of Music” singalong.
Some Epcot visitors wandering in, looking for the American Adventure film upstairs, were startled by the new piano music. Others danced like no one was watching or snapped fingers.
“Play something from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” one visitor tossed out. Stein instead played practically everything from “Beauty and the Beast” in a medley in which she used the length of the keyboard with energy and panache.
“You hate your job, don’t you?” the requester joked. Stein and everyone else laughed.
Stein is scheduled for multiple appearances daily at American Adventure Sunday through Thursday. Kelly DeWayne Richards plays there Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
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