A live music event can lead to a variety of emotions. Rarely do we have the chance to attend an event that brings so many elements of symphony orchestra music, professional choir, theater, and Hollywood movie themes all into one spectacular event. Recently Family Review Guide attended the live performance at the Honda Center of Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton.
I have always enjoyed and appreciated the music of Danny Elfman, from his years with Oingo Boingo to the soundtracks he wrote for so many popular Tin Burton movies. Mr. Elfman even provides us his weekly reminder of his talent from the opening theme of The Simpsons. Meanwhile, the genius of Tim Burton’s filmmaking and amazing talent displayed in Danny Elfman’s music proved that these artists are a perfect team for their genre. Their combination was often why the movies were so successful.
To explain the broad appeal of this show, the group included the Hollywood Symphony (with 84 members) and Page L.A. Choir (34 performers) conducted by the award-winning John Mauceri (Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra). This combination was an absolute treat. I always appreciated classical music but yet never had the chance to witness a full live performance as the featured act. In addition, there were familiar songs as themes from so many movies I had seen, and this emphasized the joy and appreciation for the complexity of the compositions.
The first movie’s theme in the show was from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a well-known film of the original classic with a strong following. Elman brings out the eerie intrigue of the character through his music and the audience loved it.
During the show, the video screens would switch between images from the actual movie footage, rough sketches of the characters, and then live images of the performers. Special attention was given to the entertaining and energetic conductor as well as several spectacular soloists – choir members Micah Angelo Luna & Mason Purece, and Sandy Cameron as the “Gypsy Violinist”.
The symphony even had the first notes played from a theremin (a rare electronic spooky-sounding device), which is a perfect example of why the music is so appropriate for these theatrical style.
Other familiar and thrilling songs included the music from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Corpse Bride, Batman/Batman Returns, Mars Attacks, Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Planet of the Apes and more.
Of course, the best part of the show was certainly the last 30 minutes: enter Danny Elfman, performing songs from the Nightmare Before Christmas. This man proved to be one of the most talented performers I had ever seen.
The performance of “This is Halloween” was way beyond my expectations. It was one of those unforgettable moments which offered an appreciation for live music beyond what any recording could achieve. It was my favorite part of the show, and I wish I could witness this again and again. The theatrics and harmonies were perfect and the conductor even spun around to sing a line with to add some comedy into the mix.
Elfman commanded the stage, sang perfectly with energy and harmony, and engaged the audience as an experienced artist would (he’s been writing and performing music for 29 years). He even explained the gift he had been given to work with so many talented musicians, and emphasized that a large portion of the orchestra included people who performed the original scores of the movies over the years. He described them as “the Real Deal” and proclaimed “LA musicians are the best in the world!”
Danny Elman and John Mauceri finished the show with a final unexpected duet of Oogie Boogie’s Song, which was also a thrilling version and stayed true to the mission of the show. It was everything the audience could ask for. I can only hope that Mr. Elfman and these best-in-the-world musicians will perform in Orange County again next year and I can see this all again with family and friends.