Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are one the most dynamic duos in the whole of the entertainment industry. Both Elfman and Burton are talented on their own, but all the projects they’ve worked on together have been pure magic. Over 20 years of working with each other have garnered such iconic films as Beetlejuice, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands and the infamous Nightmare Before Christmas, in which Danny Elfman not only wrote the music and lyrics, but sang as the protagonist Jack Skellington. And Friday night I had the privilege of seeing the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and the The Page LA Choir conducted by John Mauceri perform Danny Elfman’s music from the films of Tim Burton. .
The setlist included all of Burton’s films that Elfman scored and some movies included more music than others, such as Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, which are some of Burton’s more heralded films. During each movie score there were not only scenes from that particular movie played, but also never-before seen (for me, at least) sketches that Tim Burton did for the characters and scenery. They were amazing and fun to see how they transitioned onto celluloid. I’ve been a Burton and Elfman fan since as long as I can remember. My mom showed me Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when I was about five years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tim Burton has such a wonderfully playful but dark sense of storytelling and Danny Elfman matches that perfectly with his hauntingly beautiful style of composing. The whole night was an absolute joy, and although it was magical to hear all the films music played live, I think the highlight for every single person there was was then they launched into The Nightmare Before Christmas at the end. Danny Elfman walked out, the audience went nuts, and I got little chills as he started singing “Jack’s Lament.” Jack Skellington is a pop culture icon now and Elfman literally IS Skellington, so we were all seeing a cartoon come to life. He also sang “This is Halloween” with a group of singers performing the other various voices, as well as “What’s This?” and an encore of “The Oogie Boogie Song,” which he did not originally sing in the film. Elfman seemed to be having the time of his life bringing Jack to life for everyone and he sounded fantastic. Here’s hoping this opens the door to more Danny Elfman performances in the future.
Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton ran from Oct. 30th-Nov. 1st. There is only one more performance on November 15th at the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio.