Pixar in Concert

I’m a sucker for films projected with live orchestral accompaniment. My first exposure to it was when Wolf Trap performed the entire score to Fellowship of the Ring in 2008 (followed by Two Towers in 2009, Return of the King in 2010, and then Fellowship again last year)…God bless Wolf Trap, really. They’re doing the geeky lord’s business.

When we saw that Wolf Trap had only one scheduled performance for Pixar in Concert, we jumped at the chance to get tickets. I mean, come on now, who doesn’t love Pixar?

The evening was separated into two “acts,” and they managed to include all 14 current Pixar feature films, from Toy Story to Monsters University. Each movie was highlighted individually, and some got more time than others, but none clocked in at at more than 10 minutes.

The screens showed highlight reels for each film to accompany the music. There was no audio, which was nice, since it only would have distracted from the music. (During the Lord of the Rings performances, as amazing as they were, it was far too easy to forget that the orchestra was performing the entire thing live. Unbelievably, a seeming majority of the people at those shows got up and left once the credits began to roll, oblivious to the fact that the orchestra and soloists were continuing to play and sing. Heathens.)

But back to Pixar. The National Symphony Orchestra knocked it out of the park. Amazingly, all 14 Pixar films were composed by only four people. And Patrick Doyle only did Brave, so Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, and Michael Giacchino composed the remaining 13. Each film’s score is, unbelievably, unique. And fantastic.

Although some might be more memorable or catchy (the main themes from Toy Story and A Bug’s Life spring to mind) and some are downright beautiful in their scope (Finding Nemo and Wall-E), not one of them is even ho-hum. They’re all amazing, even the ones you think you don’t remember.

We brought our 2- and 5-year-olds to the show, and they both loved it. Zoey is a seasoned pro at musicals and theatrical performances at this point, and she had been looking forward to this for a while. She was not disappointed.

The 2-year-old, however, didn’t know what to expect (nor did we). Despite the lack of “sound” with the movies, he was riveted. I don’t think he turned away from the stage and screen once during the first act. At one point, he turned to him mom and said, “Mommy, me love this.”

And that about sums it up. I can’t really say it much better than that. Me love this.

It looks like it’ll be playing in various cities throughout the rest of this year, so if it’s coming near you…and you like Pixar (or fun)…then do not miss this. You’ll love it, too.

Minor gripe? Wolf Trap: that’s a really big lawn you’ve got there. And it spreads out quite a distance on both sides. You might want to consider adding two more screens for the people stuck on the sides of the lawn. I’ve been saying so since 2008.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

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