Highlights of Laura Dickinson’s multifaceted career are singing on Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” and “Sofia the First,” on soundtracks for the “Pitch Perfect” movies and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and in commercials for Maybelline, Target, and Priceline. She has danced with a make-believe Fred Astaire and impersonated the glamorous Rita Hayworth at the Pageant of the Masters. She sings with and directs Vybration, a six-voice a cappella group appearing at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center on Oct. 11. Oh, and she has a new big-band jazz record, “Auld Lang Syne,” out for the holiday season.
The versatile entertainer grew up with musical parents. “My favorite place when I was little was underneath the piano when my mom was practicing. At the same time, my dad always had a band rehearsing. He was always changing his voice to sound like Elvis or Roy Orbison or John Fogerty or Tom Petty. I learned all my sound-alike skills from listening to my dad. I learned without even knowing it.”
She got her first job at Disneyland, developing showbiz skills in the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and other attractions right out of high school. In 2001, she put her singing talent to use at Disney California Adventure with Groove 66, an a cappella ensemble.
“A lot of people look down on theme-park performing, but if you can do six 30-minute shows a day, you can do anything in your career. There may be a cotton-candy cart driving by in the middle of your set. It was a great, great learning experience. That was my college.”
A chance encounter at another Orange County institution led to a fruitful, long-lasting collaboration with Danny Jacob, a guitarist, composer, and producer. Dickinson was slated to perform the Sting ballad “Fields of Gold” in the 2006 Pageant of the Masters to accompany Jean-François Millet’s “The Sower.”
“I was sitting in the pit before the show, and my chair was right next to the guitar player. He looked at me and said, ‘What is wrong with you? You look miserable.’ I had just broken up with my fiancé. Danny said, ‘I’ve got this project that I really need a singer on. Why don’t you come over and see if it’s a good fit, and you can record with me?’ ”
The project was “The Emperor’s New School,” an animated show that aired for two seasons on Disney Channel and was based on the film “The Emperor’s New Groove.” She went on to work with Jacob on the wacky, high-energy Disney hit “Phineas and Ferb,” and its spinoff, “Milo Murphy’s Law,” now airing on Disney XD with “Weird Al” Yankovic voicing the lead character. “Animation has been the bulk of my career thus far, and it’s all because of Danny Jacob. At this point, my voice is on TV every single day.”