In today’s guest post, Craig Joseph Pisani discusses his experiences seeing the family classic Home Alone performed live with an orchestra.
From time to time our favorite films receive rejuvenation, a shot in the arm, or mind, for that matter. Occasionally they are beloved cinematic classics from before our time that are re-released on the silver screen, allowing us to view them for the first time. Perhaps you watch a film with a friend who had never seen it before and you know they absolutely must and you will be the one to share it with them. It refreshes our connection with the film, allowing us to feel good about it on a higher level, a feeling not felt for a long time. Fortunately for myself, I had the pleasure of this experience in December of 2015 watching the beloved Chris Columbus Christmas tale Home Alone live in concert.
I recall loving the film for the first time during its opening week when I saw it with the entire family as a 12-year old back in November of 1990. We got an extra kick out of it because Macaulay Culkin’s portrayal of the cunning and creative Kevin McCallister reminded us of our cousin from Massachusetts. Over the years it became a semi-tradition for my sister and I to watch it on or around Thanksgiving. But for my Christmas gift in 2015, my sister Lauren and her husband Joe took me to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey for the 25th anniversary of Home Alone to be shown as a live orchestra produced the amazing Academy Award-nominated score by John Williams.
The night began with a choir singing Christmas carols and us enjoying top shelf whiskey in the lobby as we anxiously awaited taking our seats. Once inside, we headed straight for the front as we possessed second row seats. If you have ever attended an event as such you know how awesome that is to witness the orchestra in action while able to see their intense faces mastering their craft. Two months earlier I had gone to see Back to the Future in concert at Radio City Music Hall for its 30th anniversary, the year Marty and Doc travel into the future. While we had orchestra seating, we were still far away enough not to enjoy the full intended experience, but it was still fantastic nevertheless.
From the moment the film starts you garner a different form of appreciation for it. The entire audience senses magic in the air. It feels like you are watching the film for the first time with 300 other people who feel the same way. A comedy which you’ve seen 100 times before becomes funny again, the dramatic moments hit you where it hurts, and you forget that you know everything that will take place and just enjoy the every second you have listening to professional musicians perfectly score a live film. The impressiveness can’t be compared to any other movie-going experience. An IMAX experience becomes a joke at this point; save the crappy 3D glasses for the next jerk as the orchestra, completely in tune and in time to where it should be at every flawless moment, justifies the price of admission. If the opportunity should ever present itself with a movie that means something to you, by all means take it.
Have you ever seen a film performed with a live orchestra? If so, tell us about it in the comments!
Craig Pisani is an avid moviegoer and aspiring screenwriter with Bachelor’s degrees in both Cinema and English.