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Bugs Comedy Cartoons & Orchestra To Wow NZ


Scoop Interview: Comedy Cartoons & Orchestra To Wow NZ

By Yasmine Ryan

George Daugherty on Bugs Bunny On Broadway

  • Its not often that audiences can hope to go to a concert combining slapstick comedy cartoons with a live orchestra. That is exactly what Bugs Bunny On Broadway – coming to Auckland’s Civic for just three shows – does. The acclaimed concert, which has been running for 15 years, is visiting New Zealand for the first time, direct from Australia as it begins a world tour. Scoop speaks to its Emmy Award-winning conductor and creator, George Daugherty.
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    For Bugs’ original fans, watching the classic Warner Brothers’ cartoon character entailed a night out at the theatre accompanied by friends or family. For the first time in decades, audiences can again enjoy a similar experience, this time with the added extravagance of the Auckland Philharmonia. “Audiences would have experienced the cartoons in a theatre with music playing, and they were designed to be on a big screen view, and people laughing all at the same time, so yes, it’s harking back to those days” explains Daugherty. “We’re all used to seeing them on television so it’s quite a different experience to be surrounded by hundreds of people laughing hysterically.”

    The incredible music scores that were written to accompany the cartoons are the originals – by renowned composers Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn, who reinterpreted masterpieces from Wagner, Rossini, Strauss, Von Suppe and Tchaikovsky. The Golden Age of the cartoon art form have long since departed, indeed Bugs traditionalists must be shocked to learn of the anticipated rebirth of a “new and improved” Bugs this year.

    Bugs Bunny On Broadway is, says Daugherty, a show with wide appeal, that different people can appreciate on different levels. While children love the colourful animation and slapstick humour, their parents enjoy “the sophisticated humour in these cartoons that you never noticed when you were younger”. Likewise, the seasoned concert goer, “will get all of the “inside” jokes.” This broad appeal has been proven by the show’s international success (it has played at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre, The Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Kremlin Palace, and London's Royal Festival Hall).

    One imagines that for Daugherty’s Russian audience, the show would be quite a different experience, as they would be quite unfamiliar with Warner Brothers. Daughterty describes playing in the Kremlin Palace as “unbelievable”, and the shpw sold out several nights in succession, “which just goes to show you that when it comes to these cartoons, they are just very universal. They make audiences laugh everywhere.”

    The show includes the brilliant What’s Opera Doc?, and The Rabbit of Seville (which Daugherty admits are his favourites), amongst numerous others. Upon his arrival in New Zealand, the conductor will have just three rehearsals with the Auckland Philharmonia, “so it’s all pretty intense”.

    What: Bugs Bunny On Broadway
    Where: The Civic, THE EDGE, Auckland
    When: Friday 25 February at 8pm, and Saturday 26 February at 3pm and 8pm.


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