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‘Bugs Bunny at the Symphony’ Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Twenty-city tour includes special performances with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has announced that Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, the record-setting orchestra-and-film concert that invented a whole new genre of symphony orchestra concerts, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with an exuberant 20-city U.S. and Canada tour that includes special gala celebrations with the New York Philharmonic, already sold-out in four performances at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

“We’re honored to be celebrating 25 years of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony as it continues to entertain generations of fans at landmark venues around the world,” said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President at Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Music has always been at the heart of the beloved Looney Tunes and we are thrilled to continue to bring music, laughter and artistic inspiration to worldwide audiences in this celebratory tour.”

In the summer of 1990, Primetime Emmy Award winners George Daugherty and David Ka Lik Wong created and premiered Bugs Bunny on Broadway to a sold-out house at the San Diego Civic Theatre with the San Diego Symphony conducted by Daugherty, followed by the critically-acclaimed extended run at The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, in New York.

The iconic animated shorts were created by some of the most creative minds in film -- from the visual brilliance of such directors as Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Robert McKimson. The combination of the world’s most iconic Looney Tunes on the silver screen -- What’s Opera, Doc?, The Rabbit of Seville, Zoom and Bored, Rhapsody Rabbit, Baton Bunny, and many others -- with the classically-infused original scores of Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn played by full, live symphony orchestra proved irresistible to audiences everywhere. Through the years, the concert has played to millions of fans all over the world, in venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the Hollywood Bowl to Severance Hall to Royal Festival Hall, and with the world’s greatest orchestras, including 20 performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, ensembles such as the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the National Symphony at Wolf Trap, the San Francisco Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony, the St. Louis and Pittsburgh Symphonies, and over 150 other major orchestras worldwide.

The 25-year longevity of this pioneering concert franchise is unequaled in the industry, and its success inspired the animation, film and multi-media-with-orchestra productions, since it was among the very first touring symphony orchestra concerts to bring big screen projections, original vocals and sound effects, and live symphonic accompaniment to huge audiences on a global scale -- and concerts which have now become a hugely popular staple throughout symphony orchestra seasons everywhere.

In 2010, Bugs Bunny on Broadway was refreshed and refashioned as Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, and in 2013, as Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II. Now in 2015/2016, this entire concert franchise receives a 25th Anniversary Celebration tour going from Coast to Coast on the North American continent.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 14-16, the New York Philharmonic performs a special 25th Anniversary edition of the concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, conducted by Daugherty, and with special guest Whoopi Goldberg at the May 15 and 16 performances. Due to overwhelming response, the New York Philharmonic has added an extra performance on Thursday night, May 14, and will feature a salute to the iconic animation director Chuck Jones, whose fanciful cartoons make up the bulk of the concert, along with Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes costumed characters on-hand, courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari, for audience photo opportunities at every New York Philharmonic performance. The entire four-performance run is now sold-out.

The West Coast edition of the special celebration takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 14-15, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, where the concert has appeared more than 20 times in the past, many of which were sellouts. Looney Tunes and the Bowl have always had a special relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, even frequently rehearsing (in the early days) in Warner Bros’ large orchestra scoring stage (one of the few left in Hollywood). The concert brings their partnership to life as several of the most iconic cartoons, such as Long Haired Hare, The Rabbit of Seville, Baton Bunny, and a guest artist appearance -- Tom and Jerry In The Hollywood Bowl -- all set in an animated version of the Bowl itself.

The August 14 and 15 Bowl special performances will include the world premiere of Long-Haired Hare accompanied by live orchestra, as well as the concert premiere of Rabid Rider, one of the Studio’s new and critically-acclaimed 3D Looney Tunes shorts; a special celebratory performance of The Dying Swan by Ida Nevasayneva (a.k.a. Paul Ghiselin), the beloved prima ballerina of the hilariously world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, paying homage to Bugs Bunny’s legendary on-screen balletic exploits; and on-stage turns by a number of other special guest artists, including the current line-up of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes voiceover artists, in a salute to “the man of a thousand voices,” Mel Blanc.

“Having been part of this 25-year creative legacy, in collaboration with my creative partner David Ka Lik Wong, has been a dream come true,” said conductor/co-creator George Daugherty. “We never imagined that 25 years later, we would still be performing this concert around the world, selling out virtually every performance.”

“These Warner Bros. cartoons are absolutely the best of the best, and their original Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn scores are brilliant examples of that perfect fusion of classical music themes and exhilarating American film music,” Daugherty added. “It really is no surprise that audiences, no matter what age or where they grew up, can never get enough of the Looney Tunes. For us to perform them with the greatest symphony orchestras in the world, in the most iconic concert halls on the planet—well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

“I am honored to be associated with this concert series for almost its entire 25 year history,” said Steven A. Linder, Senior Vice-President, Global Head of Attractions, IMG Artists, the worldwide booking and management agency for both concerts. “And I am equally thrilled to be part of this project, as so brilliantly conceived by George Daugherty and David Ka Lik Wong. All of us at IMG Artists are so proud to be part of this project as it reaches its milestone 25th Anniversary.”

2015-2016 Celebration Concert Tour:

Before and after the New York and Los Angeles special gala performances, the concert will tour from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada. The 25th Anniversary tour started in January 2015 with the New Jersey Symphony in both Newark and New Brunswick, and has since played to sold-out houses with The Knoxville Symphony, The San Antonio Symphony, and the Wheeling Symphony.

COMPLETE UPCOMING TOUR SCHEDULE: (all conducted by Daugherty except where noted) includes: 2015: New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, May 14-16; Richmond Symphony at Altria Theatre (VA), May 16 (Conducted by Erik Ochsner); Nashville Symphony Orchestra at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, June 12; San Diego Symphony at The Embarcadero, July 26; Los Angeles Philharmonic at Hollywood Bowl, August 14 and 15; Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at Jack Singer Concert Hall, October 9-10; Austin Symphony Orchestra at Long Center for the Performing Arts, October 24; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Orpheum Theatre, November 7-8; Utah Symphony Orchestra at Abravanel Hall, December 22-23; 2016: Colorado Springs Philharmonic, February 5-6; Saskatoon Symphony at TCU Place Sid Buchwold Theatre, March 12; Virginia Symphony Orchestra at Chrysler Hall, March 19; Fort Worth Philharmonic at Bass Performance Hall, April 8-10; and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, April 15-17. More cities will soon be announced.

Source: Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.