By: Nicolette Preradovic
When Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas came out in October of 1993, I was a ten-year-old immersed in the world of Disney. Though, it wasn’t until years later that I caught my first glimpse of the critically-acclaimed stop-motion animated masterpiece. Drawn in to Nightmare’s dark fantasy elements and existential story-line, it quickly became one of my favorites.
Now, twenty five years after its original release, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago commemorates the Disney classic with two nights of Halloween Town fun for Nightmare lovers of all ages. With the Chicago Philharmonic performing the film’s original score by Danny Elfman LIVE on the auditoriums historic stage, I know this will be an experience my little sister and I will not forget.
Fans of the film roam around the 129-year-old lobby in full costume, purchasing snacks and beverages. A step-up photo booth with Nightmare props stands beneath one of the many wide-rimmed arches that fan the golden hued ceiling. There is something magical about attending an event like this the day after Halloween. Residual afterthoughts linger between the holidays’ realms, and you get the feeling that holiday portals really exist.
But whether you are in Halloween Town or Christmas Town, when you are attending Disney in Concert, you are immediately placed in Music Town. No wonder The Illinois Council of Orchestras awarded the Chicago Philharmonic “Orchestra of the Year” for 2018. Opening the concert with Nightmare’s “Overture,” the orchestra’s twenty-six instrument ensemble tip-toes audible sound waves into the atmosphere quickly enough to snag your heart before the acoustics progress into the dynamic movements of the film.
Hovering just below the stage’s main arch, Burton’s beloved characters come to life on the projection screen. The auditorium itself grows dark as the ceiling lights dim; only the stage glows now – around the fibers of the instrumentalists Halloween costumes, like a banana, a Marilyn Monroe, and a Santa Claus. Murals and mosaics fade into the shadows of the auditoriums grandiose presence. A multilayered soundscape fills the empty spaces as we become enchanted with Nightmare all over again.
Music always has a profound way of moving human emotion into multiple dimensions of thought and experience. While art becomes the magnetic force that puts visual representation on full display. The Auditorium Theatre, with its radiant 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling arches, iron ornaments, and gilded bas-relief designs is the perfect place to allow those dimensions to unfurl as you become part of the imagination that forges these conceptions.