Theatre Review: ‘Pixar in Concert’ at Musco Center for the Arts

The Musco Center for the Arts located on the campus of Chapman University was the perfect setting for a delightful evening of Pixar in Concert.  Performed on September 28, 2019, the concert kicks off the theatre’s season of exceptional music concerts.  Was a soothing audio experience that tickled the senses.  The live orchestra featured the Chapman Orchestra with special guest artists.  A moderated panel discussion preceded the main event that was open to Chapman University students that featured Michael Giacchino.  Giacchino is one of the best-known and most successful composers working in Hollywood today.  His Pixar contributions include UP, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.

Tuning in to the orchestra

Chapman University is not the first concert venue that has featured a Pixar-themed concert.  In the summer of 2012, the concert was performed in San Francisco and the Hollywood Bowl.  And the Music of Pixar LIVE concert performed at Disney Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida in 2017.  All variations were merit given the venue they were able to perform.  But for patrons who have a real appreciation for music in the movies, Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts was the perfect stage to really let the music sweep you off your feet.

A full house awaits inside the theatre

The program featured a particular focus on music composers that gave the evening a concentrated look at the different styles each person was able to contribute.  The show went directly from one film overture to the next while montage clips of the accompanying movie played on a big screen in the background amongst a blue-lit orchestra.  The backlight could have changed colors to match the movie playing, but that’s a minor nitpick and may have to do with visibility for the orchestra.  The first half of the evening featured the enduring classics of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc, WALL-E, Cars, and UP.  After a twenty-minute intermission, the show resumed with The Incredibles, Inside Out, Cars 2, Monsters University, Finding Dory, Coco, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3, and concluded on You’ve Got a Friend in Me from the Toy Story franchise.  The overtures bounced back and forth between Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, and Michael Giacchino.  So music from BRAVE by Patrick Doyle and The Good Dinosaur had little to no mention.  Oddly enough, a bugs’ life was advertised but not mentioned even though the music was composed by Randy Newman.  Not to mention the recent demise of that movie’s land from Disney California Adventure just down the road.

Entrance to the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University

There was plenty to appreciate for the one-time performance.  For those sitting nearest the orchestra, you can really feel like strings plucking on violins, the boom of wind instruments, and beat of the drums.  The sight and sound quality give off the appeal of imagining being in a soundstage recording these great pieces of instrumental classics.  The Chapman Orchestra doesn’t tell but shows you why Pixar is a master at its craft.  To be able to hear the audience’s reactions to the musical humor behind Monsters, Inc., and WALL-E demonstrates the power music has on a movie even with no dialogue.  WALL-E was even designed as a silent movie character, so alive to film music concert was made for this film.  The audience could take its time admiring the instruments play during the slow and emotional moments like in the opening to UP.  The wide shots and sweeping angles over Paris and driving through Ornament Valley in Cars take you to a whole new world.  Then the thrill-a-minute action from The Incredibles turns up the heat and you’ll really see the orchestra take flight.

Find out what other concerts will be playing at the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University at www.muscocenter.org.  Future performances include LeAnn Rimes, Mandy Patinkin (of The Princess Bride fame), and more.

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