Pros: A total treat for eyes and ears.
Cons: Given the show’s steep price tag and focus on the music of Fantasia, I wish the sound had worked better.
Those of us who grew up with a VHS tape of Disney’s Fantasia in the family film collection are likely to have vague memories of psychedelic colours, fairies dancing to swirling music and the harrowing tale of the sorcerer’s apprentice, which tells the sorry story of young Mickey Mouse daring to acquire some magic for himself.
Director Daisy Evans has now taken the plunge and put wizardry (with a lot of creative brain power) to work to create an immersive experience celebrating the music and magic of Disney’s 1940 masterpiece. Deep under Waterloo Station in The Vaults, her team have conjured up a fairy tale world of frozen lakes, hissing volcanoes, babbling brooks and comical cabaret. Instagram-worthy? You bet! Audience members don headsets that render the classical music which was at the heart of Disney’s film, synchronised with the performances and animations. They’re then invited to wander freely through the mystical underground landscape that has been created through beautiful set design, video projections, clever lighting and performance pieces.
A couple of moments stand out in particular. I very much enjoyed the bold re-imagining of the Dance of the Hours, which featured a hippo, a crocodile, an elephant and an ostrich in the original. Thankfully the masterminds behind Sounds and Sorcery haven´t tried to create a copy of the film version, but instead have developed a new, visually brilliant and hilarious rendition which works for the space and format. I loved the frozen lake flanked by fir trees, under the surface of which colourful lights danced and spin, driving the children in the audience to try and capture them. The cleverly adapted scene from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is also well done, although be warned, you will get wet if you dare to sit in the front!
Unfortunately for an immersive show celebrating the magic and music of a film created over 75 years ago, the sound from the headphones was patchy and grainy – all the more frustrating as the music is so powerful and beautiful, and was meant to be central to the experience. Hopefully these were initial teething problems which will be sorted out shortly – particularly in the light of the steep £40 ticket price.
Sounds and Sorcery deserves credit for giving people an opportunity to engage with classical music in a different way. Few of us might take two hours out to listen to the music of Tchaikovsky, so it was wonderful to see lots of different people starting to sway and dance to the tunes amongst the fir trees. It’s a wonderful production. Go open that sorcerer’s book, and let the magic do the rest.
Director: Daisy Evans
Musical Direction: Stevie Higgins
Designer: Kitty Callister
Video Designer: Doug Foster
Lighting Designer: Jake Wiltshire
Sound Designer: David Gregory
Booking until: 30 September 2018
Booking link: https://www.thevaults.london/sounds-and-sorcery-celebrating-fantasia
Box Office: 020 7401 9603