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Helena Blackman – Journey to the Past review at Pheasantry London

It is 75 years since Walt Disney produced the first ever full-length animated film. The success of 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ensured that most animated features that followed would include songs as part of their narrative storytelling.

Distilling so much history into one evening is no easy task. Helena Blackman wisely concentrates on songs that have influenced her, which means that familiar numbers dominate, while some lesser-known surprises are also revealed.

Some of the standards from Disney’s golden age require a higher soprano range than songwriters today tend to expect of their singers. Blackman makes light work of them, though, giving a fluidity to numbers from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty that matches the style of the originals.

Lest this become an evening of pure nostalgia, though, Blackman also mines the studio’s more recent output, starting with The Little Mermaid and bringing the story up to date with an Alan Menken and Stephen Schwarz number from 2011’s Tangled.

Blackman also looks to some of the animated films that other studios created in the Disney tradition. Somewhere Out There from An American Tail, and the titular Journey to the Past from Fox’s Anastasia, demonstrate that Disney did not always hold the monopoly on beautiful standards.

With so much material to choose from, it is likely that the set list will change as Blackman tours. What is assured, though, is that these performances will celebrate some of cinema’s greatest musical numbers in a style that does them great credit.

Production Information

Pheasantry, London, January 21, then touring until April 12

Speckulation Entertainment
Musical director
Ellie Verkerk
Cast includes
Helena Blackman, Stephanie Fearon, Chris Mitchell
Running time
1hr 40mins

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