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Review: Warner Bros. presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

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4 stars

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Printing Partners Pops Series, Nov. 12-14. High-pitched laughter of the very young mingled with chortles of elders who might have seen these vintage Warner Bros. cartoons in Circle Theatre when they originally ran in the 1930s, '40s, '50s and then on television in replays. Intergenerational delight is what Pendleton, Ind. native George Daugherty intended when he created "Bugs Bunny on Broadway," experienced by 2-million people since its 1990 New York City premiere and subsequent worldwide tours. "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" is a new version extending Daugherty's goal to bring new audiences to symphony orchestra music. "Live music is not one of life's luxuries; it's one of life's necessities." He introduced Friz Freleng's "Shake Your Powder Puff" as the first-ever Looney Tune that parodied the symphony orchestra. Decades of these classical music spoofs, including "Merrie Melodies," featured works by Smetana, von Suppe, Rossini, Strauss (elder and younger), Grieg, Offenbach, Donizetti and Wagner, along with folk music and then contemporary pop and jazz. We early on acquired an eclectic sensibility because this music played by a full orchestra to match the shenanigans of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, etc., was what we whistled, hummed, clapped when we made up our own crazy movies [with cardboard cameras].

The standouts at the concert were Chuck Jones' brilliant "Baton Bunny," "What's Opera, Doc?" "Zoom and Bored," "The Rabbit of Seville" and "Long-Haired Hare." The "Salute to Bugs Bunny from his friends at Hanna-Barbers" [one time a rival to Warner Bros.] added the delightful "Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl," "Scooby-Doo's Hall of the Mountain King," and "Bedrock Ballet." Daughtery, conducting the ISO players, perfectly matched the on-screen action with a richly nuanced sound from all sections and soloists. Outstanding all around. More at www.BugsBunnyAtTheSymphony.net

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