Before The big love-able Mickey Mouse, was unleashed to the world there were Silly Symphonies - a series of 75 animated short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939. The Silly Symphonies were originally intended as whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music strangely NOT the other way around and on Saturday June 4th I along with about 1,999 more guests got to watch them on the big screen at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown L.A. accompanied live by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO).
The Family friendly event was a hit with the crowd. The only thing louder than the orchestra were the chuckles and cheers by guests of all ages. It is only a true work of art that can make a child and adult laugh at the same type of comedy, believe me as a mom who keeps up with the cartoons and animated shows of this time the comedy that will make me laugh is not the same that makes my kids laugh. It was great to watch these classic pieces, this type of humor never goes out of style.
The orchestra performed to seven restored Disney Silly shorts. A fox trot composed by Carl Stalling narrated the first ever silly symphony created “The Skeleton Dance" a spookily - hillarious piece of four skeletons dancing in a graveyard at night before the daylight sends them all running back to a grave. This is also the only one in black and white that we watched that night.
Then it was on to "Flowers and Trees" a story of the awakening of the flowers and trees in Spring time and the fight for love when a tree couple find themselves in a conflict with a male tree Villain. When the good male tree fights for his tree girl the villain tree sets fire putting not only the good trees in danger, but the flowers and animal life in the park. The orchestra succeeded in getting the sound of conflict across to the audience.
"The Country Cousin" a short that immediately ignited laughter with the audience.
It starts off with a letter from one Town mouse to his country mouse cousin. The letter reads
" STOP BEING A HICK STOP
COME TO THE CITY AND LIVE
IN SPLENDOR WITH ME STOP
DONT STOP= "
So Abner the country mouse goes to the city to visit Monty the city mouse where they feast on a smorgasbord of the rich people's food all the while trying to stay quiet and not get caught by the people or the cat. They succeed until Abner gets into the champagne and becomes a sloppy drunk getting caught and chased away by the cat.
Then it was on to the classic tale we all know and love.
"Three Little Pigs" right before intermission.
The Audience came back from intermission hungry for more much like the wolf was in this symphony.
We came back to "The Old Mill" a piece about an old windmill in the country, the animals that have taken over the windmill must fight to survive the summer storm.
Then on to another classic still told today to all the people still trying to find their place in this world.
"The Ugly Duckling" . This was the last of the seventy five silly symphonies made. It starts off with a funny scene of a proud mommy and daddy duck with their just hatched ducklings, BUT WAIT! There's one more! Mommy duck is surprised to see the white and very different duck and daddy....... well he is not so happy about it. He feels betrayed by his wife duck and leaves, so mamma duck goes off with her ducklings leaving the weird and awkward white duck alone to find his place in the pond and right when he gives up and is left feeling all alone his swan family finds him.
The Grand Finale was my favorite of the Seven. "Music Land" The eighty-one year old tale is a take on "Romeo and Juliet" but all the characters, lands and weapons in this version are all musical instruments who live in different lands, The princess (the Juliet of this tale) lives in the "Land of Symphony" and her love interest the prince (the Romeo of the story) lives in the "Isle of Jazz". The two lands go to war when the king receives a musical note sent to him by the prince that he has been imprisoned by the queen's people for kissing the princess. Sparks of jazz and symphony light up the sky in this musical war. When the situation gets out of control the princess paddles out into the waters waving a white flag to stop the chaos when the prince notices she's in danger he comes to her rescue uniting the two families and lands with a "Bridge of Harmony" Such a clever piece that featured the Orpheum Theatre's very own Wurlitzer Organ.