It is now more than 25 years since Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas first hit cinemas with its combination of stop motion scares and musical magic. Since that time it has become a perennial favourite particularly on our television screens at both Halloween and Christmas. So what better time to revisit the movie with much of the original singing cast than between Halloween and Christmas 2019. The "Live in Concert" show has already toured in North America, and Glasgow was its premiere of a number of planned shows in the UK. The show has been using many local orchestras and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (plus RSNO chorus) was engaged for its Glasgow performance, conducted by returning maestro John Mauceri, who had previously conducted Danny Elfman's music from the Films of Tim Burton at the same venue.
Of course no live show of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" would be complete without Danny Elfman, who was not only the song-writer and score composer for the original movie, but also the singing voice of the lead character Jack Skellington plus some other minor characters. On this occasion Elfman was supported by two other original lead cast singing voices, Catherine O'Hara as rag-doll Sally and Ken Page as larger than life baddie Oogie Boogie. They may only have one key song solo each, but their characters are much loved and absolutely central to the story. Additional soloists and singers for the concert included Sandy Cameron (violin), Randy Crenshaw, Angie Jaree, Greg Proops, Fletcher Sheridan and Baraka May, some of whom had also lent their voices to the original soundtrack.
The main part of the show is of course the screening of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" with live voices from the main and supporting cast with the RSNO chorus. However this was broken up into sections to allow the introduction of various singers and there were a number of extras - bonus tracks you might say if this was a recorded soundtrack album. John Mauceri introduced and conducted the orchestra in the instrumental overture, and introduced Danny Elfman while the 5 supporting singers Crenshaw, Jaree, Proops, Sheridan and May played the various voices of Halloween Town for "This is Halloween". It was amusing to see Elfman come in fractionally late after the long pause in "What's This?" but other than this gave us everything as Jack Skellington. "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" was sung by Elfman with Catherine O'Hara and Fletcher Sheridan, playing the naughty youngsters Lock, Shock and Barrel. And of course Ken Page came on stage to sing "Oogie Boogie's Song" and Catherine O'Hara returned to sing "Sally's Song".
The extras consisting of Danny Elfman giving his own version of "Oogie Boogie's Song" as an encore at the end, and just after the interval we were treated to Elfman's special medley arrangement for violin and orchestra of themes from the film. The violinist Sandy Cameron has recently been associated with Elfman, since she was the soloist for the recent recording of Elfman's Violin Concerto "Eleven Eleven" which has also been premiered only a few days earlier in a few live concerts in Scotland. Cameron was joined on stage by 3 members of the RSNO playing sax, double bass and accordian, just like the band in the movie's Halloween Town and dressed in top hats and painted faces. In fact all the singers and soloists got into the spirit of the show with costumes, makeup, and cartoonish movements and actions which all added to the live experience.
All in all this show was a great celebration of the songs and music from a well-loved movie. It is certainly a family friendly event, and if the show is playing at a venue near you, it is highly recommended.