Monday, November 2, 2009

Star Wars in Concert

Being the nerds that we are, Mike and I were thrilled to hear Star Wars in Concert was making a local stop. We bought the cheapest seats available through ticketmaster (don't forget all the "convenience charges!") and also ponied up to take Patrick and Sam with us.

Luckily, the arena wasn't full, so upon arriving we were directed to exchange our nosebleeds for the top row of the middle section. The outer ring of the arena was scattered with displays of movie props and TVs telling of film development bits. (pardon the blurry photos, I can never hold the cell phone still enough) Uber-expensive souvenirs, mostly shirts and bags, were for sale, and the line wrapped around the curved hall. The snack stands were also running at full provisions, but you can't bring anything in. We had to chug my water bottle before entering.









Other concert-goers wore a variety of attire- from vintage and newer Star Wars t-shirts, character costumes, hunting/military camo over wife-beaters, and fancy evening wear. Our kids chickened out on dressing up, but later wished they hadn't.
What else can I say? John Williams' score rocked the house from start to finish. Patrick and Sam bounced and danced in their seats and half directed the music with their hands. We just let them and enjoyed their enthusiasm- our seats were such that they were bothering no one. Behind the full orchestra (and choir) were projected clips from all 6 movies and live camera shots of the musicians and lasers lighting that coordinated with the grander elevations of the score. Sometimes the lights were annoying when they flashed in your face, but I know I've had worse at a concert. The sound quality was pretty good, with only a few points where the percussion seemed to get too much amplifying. After the opening movement (the main theme), the music followed the general order of the films with pauses for live narration from Anthony Daniels (C-3PO).
Purists may be annoyed that some of the movie clips weren't from the particular film that the music drew from- they were out of sequence to provide scenes that paced well with the score. I didn't feel it detracted with one exception. Princess Leia's theme, being personally tied to her, stuck to her scenes, but the piece is slow and lovely (drawing heavy inspiration from Gustav Holst's Venus) while too many clips were active/semi-violent. It didn't mesh well. I would have preferred them keeping the mellow theme by using lots of orchestra shots or even supplementing with scenes of her mother, Padme'.
A big question you may ask is whether it would be okay to bring young children. We saw many kids, and there was never a disturbance that we noticed. In fact, this may be the best first symphony for young ones because it's music they know and the movie clips help keep their attention. I know our boys actually noticed just how many different instruments are involved and how they each have different parts that come together to make a powerful whole. There was also a 15 minute intermission (potty break!).
At the end, our crowd gave the conductor and orchestra a standing ovation and clapped long enough to get them to encore with another rendition of the Imperial March. It was 10pm on a school night by the time we got out, but we topped off the special evening for the boys with ice cream. It felt really good to spend some time with just them without being dragged down by the younger kids. Things went so well that we may do something similar with them again soon.