POSTED ON APRIL 4, 2007:
Tulsa Symphony Orchestra hopes to hit yet another home run with pops show
"Bugs Bunny on Broadway" show will feature the 'wascally Wabbit' in several famous episodes, accompanied by live music
The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra is finishing up its inaugural full season--a marvelously successful season--with only two shows left to go. With every performance, TSO has broadened the fan base for classical music, and, at the end of April, the orchestra will introduce a whole new generation to classical music and a classic cartoon.
"Bugs Bunny on Broadway," created and conducted by George Daughtery, is a last-minute add on to the original series, and a performance that will delight orchestra music aficionados and amateurs, audiences young and old.
TSO was originally scheduled to accompany the Tulsa Opera in a May 5 performance of "The Trail of Tears Oratorio," but when the show was canceled (it'll be rescheduled sometime next fall), TSO saw an opportunity to add a show to its roster.
Tim McFadden, Orchestra Manager, said he and violinist Ron Neal had discussed adding a show that would bring new audiences to the symphony, and they thought "Bugs" would serve TSO's purpose well.
McFadden himself grew up watching Bugs Bunny and other Looney Toons characters, and, though he didn't realize it at the time, those cartoons provided him his first listen to classical music.
"I didn't realize that 'Kill the Wabbit' was from an actual opera--I just though it was a cartoon," McFadden said. "But that's what I credit for getting me interesting in symphonic music."
"I have always loved Bugs Bunny," said TSO founder and CEO Frank Letcher. "What an exciting opportunity to showcase a perfect combination of classic cartoons and live symphonic music.
"Bringing George Daughtery and his spectacular creation is Tulsa Symphony Orchestra's gift to Tulsa. Our hope is these performances will reveal the universality of classical music for generations to come."
The concert features the masterpieces of Wagner, Rossini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and others performed live by TSO in exact synchronization with classic Warner Brothers cartoons, such as "What's Opera, Doc?," "The Rabbit of Seville," "Corny Concerto," "Baton Bunny," "Long-Haired Hare," "High Note" and others, which will be projected on a large screen above the orchestra.
The concert serves dual purposes, said Barbie Reif, Operations Manager for TSO. Not only does it expose young children to music they may have never heard before and cartoons they've probably never seen before, but it also provides a trip back to nostalgia for older generations who remember growing up watching the cartoons and loving the music.
And McFadden says people who have never had a love for symphonic music will be delighted by what they hear at the concert, especially when they realize that so much of the music they hear on TV and cartoons is actually centuries old. And classical music aficionados will appreciate the difficulty of the music being played--especially in exact synchronization with a cartoon the musicians can't see--as well as the "inside jokes" Warner Brothers composers Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn added to the music.
Daughtery has called composers Stalling and Franklyn brilliant--they were both master musicians and orchestrators.
In an interview with Playbill, Daughtery said, "They were incredibly knowledgeable, so when they did a send-up of Wagner or Rossini, it was done with love and respect and admiration and musical accuracy--but at the same time, with an absolutely hilarious sense of humour. But NEVER with disrespect to the original composer's masterpiece."
Daughtery created "Bugs Bunny on Broadway" because of his own love for the music and his memories of the cartoons and the effects they had on his childhood.
"Bugs and his animators all had their way with these great composers. And without 'dulling down' the music at all--or in any way being disrespectful or derogatory to the original compositions--they made this music totally irresistible--and unforgettable--to kids (and adults) who weren't normally drawn to classical music," he said.
Daughtery has been conducting the show in the U.S. and around the world for 17 years. It sold out at its extended debut at The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway in 1990, and since then has sold out other performances at The Hollywood Bowl, The Las Angeles Philharmonic, The Sydney Opera House and dozens of others. For TSO to add this performance to its inaugural season shows, not only its commitment to instilling Tulsans with a love and appreciation for symphonic music, but also to the support the company has seen from the city thus far.
Projecting the cartoons, Daughtery said, pays homage to their original creation, which, in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, wasn't for TV or video, but for the big screen. And the cartoons, though loved by children, should garner some additional appreciation from adults, who, now seeing them again for the first time, will appreciate the double and triple entendres.
McFadden said the musicians of TSO are especially excited to play the music, and the only disappointment to them is that they cannot see the screen where the cartoons are being projected. McFadden himself has wanted to do the show since he heard about it in the 90s, but when the Tulsa Philharmonic was still intact, the organization didn't have the finances to fun the show and its leaders didn't think it to be a quality show.
But TSO has proven throughout its season that it is committed to performing all kinds of symphonic masterpieces, especially those that will engage new audiences. The first concert welcomed audiences to the new organization by showing off the range and ability of the musicians. Others that followed, like "Shoot for the Stars" in January, drew audiences in by performing classical music from films that the public was already familiar with.
And nearly every month of this season--and the same will be true for next season--TSO found itself in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa PAC accompanying our other arts organizations--the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and others.
"Bugs Bunny on Broadway" hits the stage Saturday, April 28 at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 29 at 1pm in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa PAC. Tickets start at $20, and there really isn't a bad seat in the house.
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