Review of 'Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney's Fantasia'

logo.jpg https://www.soundsandsorcery.com/

Ever since I heard about this show I was intrigued being a fan of the original experimental film “Fantasia” from Disney - Classical music accompanied by animation. So, when I was given a great offer on tickets I had to go.

“Sounds and Sorcery” is set in the amazing “Vaults” venue in the vaults (obvs) of Waterloo station – A trendy venue now with a main entrance in the side of a long graffiti-strewn vault leading directly from the station. The show is in a series of rooms in the vaults decorated to match the classical music, often mimicking the scenes these pieces feature from the original film. Included are performances from cast members that really add to the experience…it is not simply an art exhibit, it is an experience.

When you arrive you are given a set of headphones plugged into a device you hang around your head. As you go from room to room the audio changes in keeping with your surroundings, mostly the music from the film to match what you are seeing (or audio clues to go in a particular direction). At your pre-determined slot you are first shown into a large room with a series of round low padded benches you lay down on to watch a video display on circular screens in the ceiling (“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”) - Yeah, a bit trippy and, I have to admit, it made me a bit dizzy particularly in the hot, humid atmosphere of the vaults.

Lay Down

After this initial experience you are moved into the main section of the exhibition which consists of a hallway with doors leading to rooms off on either side. A wall contains a helpful display of each section describing how each section works and a light indicates how many minutes until the beginning of the show (except for “The Nutcracker Suite” you can enter all at any time, really) – We did find these lights quite confusing and generally just talked to the helpful staff to see what best to visit next. A small helpful map is also attached the audio guides hanging around your neck (if you can read it in the dim lighting).

Ceiling Instruments

We first walked through “The Nutcracker Suite” which featured five rather dark rooms containing scenes from this section of the original movie including a garden with flowers glowing in the dark with black light, a wall of falling flowers, a skating rink with dancing lights and swimmers dancing underwater…

The Nutcracker Suite - Falling Flowers

The Nutcracker Suite - Flowers

We visited the area where “The Dance of the Hours” was performed only a few minutes before the show so were able to get a drink from the bar (which had surprisingly reasonable prices). This section consists of a number of cabaret-style tables and chairs arranged around a long narrow stage extending into the room. The seats were all full so we headed up some stairs into a balcony that had a dress up area and a view into the main performance area and playfully allowed us to raise and lower the cloud lights in the room above everyone's heads…

The Dance of the Hours

The 10 minute show consisted of several dancers seeking to grab the spot light of being on stage with quite a lot of physicality as they pushed and pulled each other around all to the “Dance of the Hours” music. Wonderful and very witty.

Our late entry into the Vaults of 8 pm meant we were now ushered down the hallway to the “Sorcerer's Apprentice” room which had it's last show at 8:45. This was a small room with a few benches of seats the rest of the audience area standing in terraces behind. In the centre of the room was a well out of which copious amounts of water rose out of during the 15 minute live performance by the cast of the scene of the film this time instead of featuring numerous broomsticks doing the bidding of Mickey Mouse (as the apprentice) we had several servants doing the same thing as they toiled to wash the floors (and the audience), running amok before the sorcerer eventually returns to restore order. Of course, this room was very foggy and tremendously hot and humid…

Sorcerer's Apprentice

The final room in the main area was “The Rite of Spring” which we only had a few (6-7) minutes to visit that featured the volcano scenes from the original film. Amazingly majestic music and really well done.

The Rite of Spring

The last section of the show “Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria” is a timed show you visit on the way out and, as it was the end of the evening, was very busy so we were seated at the back of a very dark room with a projected film shown on the wall opposite.

Leaving Film

The film of dancers matched pretty much the same scene from Fantasia - Several nymphs brought to life at night by a malevolent creature and all return to the earth in the morning. The climax of the film was followed by Ave Maria with the screen raising to allow the audience through a mystical, foggy forest to end up in a bar area at the end.

Walk Towards the Light

This final lounge area of the show has a number of art exhibits around the outside that are well worth a look as well as an interesting audio/video mash-up installation providing sound.

Bar

An extraordinarily well done display that continued to surprise throughout our visit. The quality was top notch and the performers very good indeed. The music was really amazing and, I understand, was recorded specifically for this show which makes it even more incredible.

On the negative side, sound on the headphones occasionally would falter in spots (my companion had trouble with her device but a few well-placed button presses seemed to fix it when required) but generally very good. We found it uncomfortably hot and stuffy in many places which did spoil the experience on occasion. I would definitely suggest that visitors leave as much time as they can before closing to visit - A few hours would be much better than the one hour we had for our visit. There is a lot to see and seats throughout where you can sit back and enjoy what you are seeing around you. This is not something to hurry through…

A lot of fun and well worth a visit.

Rating:

Review Date: 2018-08-10



The Vaults Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: Launcelot Street, London SE1 7NN ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Waterloo NRLOGO Waterloo

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7401 9603

URL: https://www.thevaults.london/

A bit tricky to find, the Vaults is located on side street on the far side (south) of Waterloo station a few streets over from the Old Vic. A trendy place it literally is under the train vaults and you can hear trains passing overhead all the time while inside. The interior is amazingly decorated with toilets as well as a bar. Really funky.