The actor and adventurer will act as narrator in an evening of songs from Disney’s most well-loved movies
Brian Blessed is keeping me entertained.
He’s rabbiting on in the guise of Grampy Rabbit – the avuncular, larger-than-life and funnily enough loud-mouthed mammal who makes watching the hugely popular animated children’s series Peppa Pig such a joy.
It’s the only TV show I can watch with my daughter that doesn’t make me want to hold a cloth dipped in chloroform over my face.
I’ve conducted quite a few enjoyable phone interviews in my time and a 20 minute chinwag with the actor and adventurer is definitely up there with the best.
As his voice booms down the phoneline, it’s much like the sound of thunder rumbling, punching the sky in the solar plexus, as it goes about its noisy business.
Earplugs would have probably helped, if I’d remembered to pop them in my work bag. Nevertheless, I’m made up to be talking to a man who is renowned for having vocal chords of steel and a thunderous delivery that could stop a herd of rampaging wildebeest dead in their tracks.
Look who’s in Disney in Concert
Look who’s in Disney in Concert
Blessed is renowned for many things, not least his expeditions to the North Pole and Everest, his long and successful stage and film career, and having a beard of such grandeur that it should immediately be considered as number eight on the list of the seven wonders of the world.
You can’t help being a fan of a man who is a bona fide, fully paid up member of the eccentrics club.
The reason for our conversation is due to Disney In Concert – The Magical Music of the Movies, which comes to St David’s Hall on Saturday promising a selection of some of the most famous Disney scores sung by a liberal sprinkling of Wales’ best performers.
For Blessed it’s a chance to relive his youth when he first fell in love with Disney and also to revel in his new found Welsh roots.
The 77-year-old’s opening gambit as he launches into our conversation, while barely pausing for breath is: “I’ve recently finished recording an episode of Who Do You Think You Are and on my mum’s side the family is Welsh, I can’t tell you too much more because I don’t want to give away what happens,” he explains. “But I love Wales. I appeared in Treasure Island many years ago and we filmed some of that in Swansea, around The Mumbles, I’ll be mentioning all of this in Cardiff, of course.
“And what you can expect at the concert is joy and magic. I’ve always been a devotee of Disney when I was a child. I loved Pinnochio and Jungle Book was a particular favourite of my father.
“And there was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves with that astonishing witch who made me want to hide behind the seats in the cinema. I didn’t think I would ever take a bite from a red apple again after watching it.”
He’s building up a head of steam now, like a bellowing runaway train racing down the tracks powered by enthusiasm, lost in reminiscence, while zig-zagging between anecdotes.
“I played Clayton – the villain in Tarzan (Disney’s 1999 animated movie), which was a great role, so much fun. Recording the voice of Clayton I realised my dream of going to LA on and off for two years.
“But Disney In Concert has never been done before,” he says, veering back on track.
“We’ll hear all those wonderful songs that have become so well loved from Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast and so many more.”
Disney in Concert stars Ria Jones (Les Miserables, Witches of Eastwick, Cats, Evita, Chess); Lucie Jones (Les Miserables, We Will Rock You); Jordan Lee Davies (The Voice); and The Welsh Session Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe featuring Welsh International baritone Mark Llewelyn Evans. But it will be Blessed who will be directing operations.
“My role as narrator is to provide a not-too-long but detailed description of each movie and the music from it,” he says.
“We’ll have a wonderful Welsh orchestra and the finest talent of Wales will be there and I guarantee you it will be an incredible evening.”
As we wind up our chat the intrepid frontiersman informs me that he’s recently completed 800 hours of space training in Moscow and is first reserve for the international space station, while also expounding on his plans to climb the most dangerous mountain in the world – the 19,000ft volcanic Mount Sangay in Ecuador, which explodes every 14 minutes.
“I can’t stay sitting on my a***,” he roars.
“I like to get out there and explore the world. A third of Canada has only been surveyed by helicopter, Venzuela the lost world of Arthur Conan Doyle – 60% of it unexplored, Guyana in South America – unexplored, much of Sumatra where they keep seeing a Yeti type creature – unexplored, half of Mongolia – unexplored, one and a quarter million square miles of Russia – unexplored, so there’s plenty still to see on this earth.”
Disney in Concert – The Magical Music of the Movies is at St David’s Hall Saturday evening at 6pm. Tickets priced £15 adults, £10 children are available from the box office on 029 2087 8444 or via www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.ukTags: actor, concert, film, movie, music, tv