REVIEW: Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia, The Vaults

While this immersive experience brings to life what Disney’s original film achieved, it feels as though it doesn’t quite go far enough with its ideas and imagination. 

 Nutcracker Suite featuring human-sized plant life in The Vaults presents Sounds and Sorcery celebrating Disney Fantasia. Credit Hanson Leatherby. 

I have long been fascinated by Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia, from childhood I fell in love with all of the ‘stories’ that were used to showcase some wonderful pieces of classical music. The film awakened me to the joy of classical music and the emotions and images it has the power to create, which is why it thrilled me when Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia was announced to transport audiences at The Vaults.

Bright, bold and colourful, audiences are guided through the world of Disney’s Fantasia, with the help of headphones playing the pieces of music used in the film as you wonder around several imaginative and occasionally charming spaces.

Directed by Daisy Evans, Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia does successfully highlight the original concept of the film of how music can conjure up a variety of emotions and images as you listen to it. This is particularly showcased in the beautiful Nutcracker Suite, filled with human sized plants and mushrooms that light up and a variety of other effects that really mesmerise and charm.

The Dance of the Hours ballet is also fun to watch (although you have to try and time it right so you catch it from the beginning as they only perform at certain times) and really captures the spirit of that particular sequence in the film.

But there are some elements of the show that feel slightly disappointing such as The Rite of Spring element, featuring pre-historic volcanos but little else to engage the audience and doesn’t necessarily make the audience want to linger and listen to the full piece of music. This and a couple of other little elements could have been expanded further to keep the audience interested.

Another slight issue is that at times the sound isn’t as smooth as it could be and so the orchestra’s richly performed recordings of these beautiful pieces of music is occasionally crackled and difficult to make out.

However, I loved the clear thought and imagination that has gone into this – it is very much a 2018 interpretation of what potentially Disney’s Fantasia would look like if it was remade now – particularly seen in the A Night On Bare Mountain sequence towards the end, with its use of contemporary dance. But it is down to Kitty Callister’s set that the audience feels completely immersed in this world.

Imaginative, creative and fun are definitely words to use for this immersive experience – but Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia lacks in finesse, with some ideas seemingly coming across as half-formed and could be built on so much more to make this a more thrilling experience.

By Emma Clarendon

The Vaults Presents Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia continues to take place until the 30th September. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


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