Columbus, Georgia will be home to the U.S. premiere of Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse in Concert at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts on August 26 at 7:30PM.
This new live concert experience pairs a screening of the Academy Award®-winning animated film with a live orchestra and turntables – including a DJ scratcher live on stage! The soundtrack, composed by Emmy® winner Daniel Pemberton, blends symphonic orchestral music with hip-hop and electronic elements while featuring boundary-pushing original music complimented with song contributions by Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Jaden Smith, and Nicki Minaj. What's more, the U.S. tour marks the first time an all-female led orchestra (The Broadway Sinfonietta) and female conductor have toured together in America.
To better understand the importance and potential impact of this new tour, we spoke with the production's producer, Ollie Rosenblatt. Read on to learn all about why Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse in Concert is a must-see!
Q: Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse has been incredibly popular, even winning an Oscar and launching a sequel this summer. Can you discuss how the concept for this “in concert” event developed?
A: We've actually done a fair amount of them over the years in the UK. The British really favor in concert tours so we're really well-versed in doing this. My team and I create the concert product and take them on tour as well. Part of our business is that we're involved with Sony Music, so when Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse was such a huge hit, it just made total sense to try and put it into this concert format for a tour.
Q: Why do you believe it's working so well?
A: Well, first and foremost, Spider-Man is a great brand and Spider-Verse is a great product. This film has a huge, growing fan base that is also very engaged. But it's also being successful because it's such a unique concept. The whole film really represents achievement and cultural diversity in a way that demonstrates very forward thinking from everyone involved. This film is very different. Sony was very in tune with the importance of celebrating cultural diversity and bringing that message forward to their audience.
It's also an incredible fit for an in concert tour because of the fact it's animation. This is a hugely successful, multiple award-winning animated film. It made totally total sense to bring this experience to a live audience. I love the fact that it's not traditional in the way other film titles have been, and that musically it's so different and interesting.
Q: What makes this particular score unique?
A: The score is one of the most exciting points of this project! Usually, films produce a very traditional feel with a big orchestra on stage and therefore, in concert experiences often have a classic John Williams type of environment. However, this project encompasses a large variety of music across multiple genres. It's got a lot of hiphop elements to it, and there was actually a scratch DJ that performed live on the soundtrack!
Images from the world premiere via the tour's website.
Q: That is very unique from a typical film score. Has that ever been done before?
A: No. It's the first time. There was a huge amount of work by Daniel Pemberton that went into creating the sound he wanted with incorporating a live scratch DJ. He did a phenomenal job of making sure it had a dramatic value in the score.
The DJ appears in the soundtrack at various points throughout the film, so we wanted to be certain to celebrate that in the live environment on the concert stage as well. That's one of the key elements of this experience. For the first time, audiences will experience a live scratch DJ on stage. I mean, she will literally be scratching original vinyl record during the show while playing with live orchestra. That is an art form in itself. This is not just a DJ working with a CD!
On top of that, this in concert experience recreates all the film huge percussion elements as well. Percussion is the heartbeat of this score, and bringing all of the rhythmic elements to the stage makes it feel like this electric orchestral environment. It's unlike anything anyone else has ever done.
Q: What were some of the biggest things to consider with that kind of orchestration?
A: Well, it posed a huge number of opportunities to just do something different. This is a very unique environment from what people traditionally experience with an orchestration of a classic film. I think that's why it was so well received at the world premiere. People were so taken with the entire concept because it's so very different from what they're used to seeing.
Q: What struck you most about the world premiere in Brooklyn?
A: I think it what was the way the whole melting pot of visual and orchestral elements came together, and how beautifully the audience took to it. I wouldn't say it was your typical music-going audience at all. Some of these people had never seen an orchestra on a stage. So, all of these elements made it hugely exciting for the audience, and the music being played live just amplified the experience even more.
The audience reaction was incredible. The in concert experience just really kind of turned it into something different that made people engage more. People were cheering, screaming and clapping during the actual film. This was especially true when watching certain points they loved in the film, but then seeing it with live orchestra made them even more excited.
I also believe the live element gives people the courage and freedom to express themselves in the audience. Because they feel like it's alright at this concert, which is what it's all about. You know, people should be able to move and show they love a period of time in the film. We encourage it! We love that. It's what it's all about. I think the premiere audience just engaged in the film in a deeper way because of the orchestra than it did when they saw it the first time on Netflix.
Q: What has it been like to work with Daniel Pemberton?
A: Oh, it's been great. He's fantastic. He is really forward thinking, and super engaged. He's one of the greatest composers of our time, so it's a privilege to work with him. He cares a huge amount, and put a lot of himself into creating the score. He brings so much positive energy to the project, which has been really wonderful to experience.
Q: This is the first time an all female led orchestra (The Broadway Sinfonietta) and female conductor have toured together in the U.S. Can you speak to the importance of this and the impact of showcasing an all-women, women-of-color orchestra? Why that was important to you, and how you feel like that all also adds to the overall experience?
A: Representation is an essential theme of this project, and we're committed to making it permeate through everything we're doing in the production. Orchestras have been traditionally more male led, but I think it's very important to break that barrier down. I also believe it's important to be celebrating these fantastically different, all female musicians. It's a privilege for our team to get to give them the opportunity from a platform like this to showcase themselves doing this work in the proximity of this film and its characters.
Our orchestra intentionally mirrors certain parts of the DNA of this film and what it represents. Again, cultural diversity is a huge theme in Into the Spider-Verse. That's exactly why we made the choices we did. To make sure that we're representing this project in the right way on stage. Inclusivity matters. Diversity matters. And frankly, these female musicians are absolutely brilliant. So, why shouldn't we have the delight of having them perform as the first all female orchestra to tour the U.S. together?!
Q: Can you talk about why you're excited to bring this type of experience to America in particular?
A: Well, I think there's a few different reasons, but obviously one of them is that this is such an important film and it hits a huge cross-generation audience of people. I believe this is a very important film culturally, in that it represents diversity across the board. I think that needs to be celebrated more.
From a audience point of view, this is a cross-generational film. You have core Spider-Man fans and now there are Spider-Verse fans which brings in a whole new younger audience, too. This project is a real blend of ages, which I think is great for the arts. For many kids and families – this is their first experience hearing a symphony live in person. It's so important for the arts to establish new fans at such an early age. We'll have about a hundred performances worldwide, so just think of the cross-generational impact it could have!
I also really think this film just simply deserves this type of global recognition. Daniel Pemberton deserves to have his score celebrated in this way. All the creators of the film and Sony Pictures and everyone involved in producing it, deserve it to be celebrated in this way. So, we are really excited to be able to be able to achieve what we're doing and the way we're doing it. It's something all of us are really proud of, and I hope as many people get to experience it as possible. ◾️