Bugs Bunny on Broadway
What: Long Beach Symphony Pops Concert, George Daugherty,
conductor, featuring classic Warner Brothers cartoons
Where: Long Beach Arena, 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
When: Tomorrow at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
for pre-concert dining
Phone: (562) 436-3203 Ext. 1
By John Farrell
Special to the Press-Telegram
He’s on of the biggest stars ever to come out of the Hollywood film factory.
For more than sixty years he has been thrilling audiences worldwide, in more languages than you can count on two gloved hands, on television, on film, on the radio, in books and even on cereal boxes.
And, even without make-up, he doesn’t look a bit older than he did when he made his big-screen debut in 1940 (take that, Cary Grant!)
He’s won one Academy Award, two more Oscar nominations, and his name is known on all seven continents. (The do have TV in Antarctica, don’t they?)
Tomorrow night he’ll be appearing with the Long Beach Symphony Pops and guest conductor George Daugherty at the Long Beach Arena as the Pops opens its 2008-2009 season.
He is Bugs Bunny, the wascally wabbit who was born in a Warner Brothers cartoon short in 1940 and has become, in the more than sixty years since,
Bugs will be starring in “Bugs Bunny on Broadway,” the international hit show that combines many o Warner Brothers most famous cartoons, including “What’s Opera, Doc” and “The Rabbit of Seville” with the live performance of a symphony orchestra. The musical scores for the cartoons created by composers Milt Franklin and Carl Stallings use the music of Wagner, Rossini, and Johann Strauss have been lovingly recreated for the cartoons, and the impact of the lush orchestral music and the wacky comedy of the classic cartoons has made “Bugs Bunny on Broadway” a huge hit, on Broadway where the show ran for months, in concerts in New Zealand and Moscow and around the world.
Daugherty, who will conduct the performance tomorrow, created the show in 1990 and has performed it around the world since them. “It has been amazing to me how long and successful it has been,” he said recently in a phone conversation from San Francisco. “We did the world premier in San Diego and then moved to Broadway, and we have been touring the world ever since then.”
It has been nearly twenty years since then, and this Bug is about to retire. “This is the last performance of this version of ‘Bugs Bunny on Broadway’ in Southern California,” Daugherty explained. “This is the last chance to see the original. We are getting a new version ready to begin the next twenty years.”
“The films are projected on big screen and the orchestra plays the original Stallings and Franklin scores,” Daugherty explained, “the scores that are so exhilarating. It is a real celebration of these animations and the music created by Carl Stallings and Milt Franklin. These cartoons represent the golden age of the Warner Brothers short film.”
The also represent, Daugherty pointed out, many peoples introduction to the world of classical music. Millions have seen “What’s Opera, Doc,” the film short that compresses Wagner’s “Ring” cycle into a six-minute cartoon, and “The Rabbit of Seville” has been watched by countless cartoon fans who have never seen Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” which was written nearly two hundred years ago. “We all had our first taste of classical music this way,” Daugherty said.
It was a major labor of love to assemble the music for “Bugs Bunny on Broadway,” Daugherty said. “Most of the original (written) music for these cartoons hadn’t been saved,” Daugherty said. “There was so much work going on at the studio it was impossible to save everything. We had to put it all together again from bits and pieces of the scores and from listening to the cartoons themselves. Of the eleven cartoons we use we had the complete scores for only two.”
In addition to Saturday’s concert there will be an art exhibit brought to the Arena by the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. Jones is the cartoonist who directed man of Bug’s most famous appearances in Saturday’s program. There will be original production drawings, animation cells paintings and other artistic memorabilia in the exhibit and the artist’s widow, Mrs. Chuck Jones, will present the LBSO with a painting by her husband based on “What’s Opera, Doc.”
The LBSO Pops concerts, sometimes called Southern California’s best indoor picnics, open their doors at 6:30 p.m. one and one-half hours before the concert begins, for indoor dining.
This article appeared in the Long Beach Press-Telegram Friday, October 31.
More of John Farrell's articles can be found at http://byjohnfarrell.typepad.com/