Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are performing with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra this fall. Along with “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II,” this new pops season features “Three Phantoms in Concert” and “Live and Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney.”
“We’re opening the door to invite the younger generations in,” said Don Reinhold, the symphony’s executive director. “There’s a terrific appeal that’s cross generational.”
In September, George Daugherty, the conductor, producer and creator of “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” brings his show — a mix of live music and film clips — to Wichita.
Daugherty has performed a version of this show for 25 years in front of millions of people.
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“The cartoons are part of our cultural history,” Daugherty said. “It’s very exciting to see a lot of laughter from our audiences, to look out and see people from ages 5 to 95 reacting in the same way.”
Reinhold wants to bring these generations out to see the symphony and thinks cartoons could be the catalyst. Just as Bugs Bunny ran to the music of Richard Wagner or Felix Mendelssohn on television, he will entertain fans with the symphony playing on the Century II stage.
“The cartoons were people’s first introduction to classical music,” Reinhold said. “We want grandparents to bring grandchildren.”
The symphony has rented state-of-the-art projectors from Nebraska and expects this show, which has proven itself worldwide, to bring in a broad spectrum of audience members.
During the concert, symphony performers will wear headphones as they listen for cues that mimic the actions of the cartoons being projected on stage, allowing them to re-create the original soundtrack with precision, and Daugherty will cue the symphony from headphones.
In February, the symphony is bringing in the Broadway touring show “Three Phantoms in Concert.” Three “Phantom of the Opera” stars, Craig Schulman, Ciaran Sheehan and Ron Bohmer, will sing songs from several Broadway classics, including “Phantom of the Opera.”
Along with the dynamic vocals, the audience will watch some behind-the-scenes fun as the performers jest about who will sing certain classic tunes.
Tony Kishman will pay tribute to Paul McCartney in early May. “Live and Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney” features the greatest hits of the Beatles and Wings. The full symphony will play “Eleanor Rigby,” “Band on the Run,” “Get Back” and other songs.
“Tony Kishman looks like and sounds like Paul McCartney,” Reinhold said. “This music is legendary.”
The symphony looks to these concerts to bring in new listeners, as well as symphony supporters. Because of the appeal of McCartney, Bugs Bunny and Broadway stars, Wichita Symphony Orchestra is reaching out to a new demographic.