MOSMA 2022 – Festival Summary – Marc Shaiman’s Big Night
Here you have the fourth and last special article of the 7th edition of the Movie Score Malaga – MOSMA festival, dedicated to the concert “Marc Shaiman’s Big Night”, which featured the participation of Marc Shaiman on piano (and singing).
The article comes from the hand of our friend and collaborator Sergio Hardasmal, true expert on the subject, and author of the first book dedicated to the figure of Marc Shaiman that has been published in Spanish and English.
MARC SHAIMAN’s BIG NIGHT
Hard work sometimes results in more than deserved recognition. It is only fitting that Marc Shaiman‘s visit to Spain should end with the programming of a concert as ambitious as it was necessary. Announced in the program of the festival under the name of “Marc Shaiman’s Big Night“, this very special event ended up filling the Cervantes Theater of the city. It had been somewhat sad that this beautiful venue had not sold out for the shows dedicated to Cobra Kai and Harold Faltermeyer, something that during the two previous evenings had somewhat spoiled the good final result of both concerts. But Shaiman‘s great farewell would change the course of the box office, causing a huge queue of spectators just a few minutes before the start of the show.
For the program the participation of the Malaga Symphony Orchestra together with the Gospel It Choir and the so-called The MOSMA Broadway Band had been advertised, all in an effort to offer a well-deserved tribute in which film music was fused with the world of musicals. Under the dedicated direction of Arturo Diez Boscovich and with the soloist voices of several of the most emerging values of the current musical in Spain, this great night of Shaiman would certainly be something more than huge. It would indeed be a magical as well as emotional and exciting evening.
The start could not have been more successful, with the projection of a brilliant audiovisual montage designed to summarize the complete artistic career of Shaiman. A great idea designed to place the public in front of the figure of a show business genius, sincerely not too well recognized in our country and clearly deserving of a greater popular following. I have no doubt of the surprise that this video clip may cause in a large part of the audience in Malaga, since sometimes the authorship of certain significant achievements in cinema, television, and musicals is not really known. And the fact is that, in spite of his brilliance and solvency, Shaiman is neither Morricone nor Williams in terms of possessing the universal popular appeal that such myths have always enjoyed.
The absence of a program booklet is one of the few defects that one can point out in this regard, with Arturo Díez Boscovich addressing the audience and asking if they were aware of its existence. It is a little disconcerting that Boscovich had not been informed of it, although he immediately decided to announce that each of the pieces of the program would be pointed out. Whoever has already attended a concert given under Boscovich’s baton (it would be strange not to have done so before, living in Malaga) will be familiar with the Maestro’s amusing and approachable style when it comes to articulating his concerts. His assessments of some of the films included in the program would not be without humor, offering in some cases valuable information about the qualities of the music in question and the reason for the tone chosen by the composer (Misery and Stephen King or Down with Love and the films of Doris Day and Rock Hudson, for example).
With the projection of images related to the pieces performed and the true authorship of some songs adapted from other authors, by express request of Shaiman, the concert would begin with the song “It Had to Be You”, from When Harry Met Sally, once really famous due to the huge success of Rob Reiner‘s film and in the impeccable voice of Albert Bolea.
A light beginning that would give way to a lively and fun suite from City Slickers, a film by Ron Underwood. This score, at times indebted to the sound of Elmer Bernstein, would excite for its correct execution and its comic and sentimental themes. The suite from Misery, on the other hand, would mean the darkest section of the whole evening, with a brilliant string section and a great dose of suspense and tension. The audience’s response in both cases was of enormous satisfaction, surprising the considerable increase of applause after each of the pieces of the program.
The opening of The Addams Family, with the famous television tune by Vic Mizzy, would provoke a certain reaction in the audience, making immediately clear the enormous goodness of Marc Shaiman‘s original themes, in one of his best scores, this time for a Barry Sonnenfeld film.
The irruption on stage of Shaiman would pleasantly surprise everyone, showing a great closeness and causing a reception worthy of a star. And the audience was already clearly devoted to the artist from the beginning.
It was the turn of “A Wink and a Smile” from Sleepless in Seattle (by Nora Ephron). After explaining that this song was his first Oscar nomination and pointing out Ramsey McLean‘s participation in the lyrics, Shaiman himself dared to perform it sitting at the grand piano. The composer’s time in that film would not end with a good memory with respect to its director, but the ovation now achieved in Malaga would give some more meaning to that irregular professional experience so many years ago.
The composer’s presence on stage would be extended for the performance of a suite from The American President, a huge Oscar-nominated dramatic composition and a Rob Reiner film. As in the case of the previous Thursday’s intimate recital, Shaiman himself would introduce the piece with a heartfelt message of disenchantment with the current political and social landscape in his country. Although the absence of an interpreter to translate his words could mislead part of the audience on more than one occasion, the goodness of the music would overlook such weaknesses. The ovation would again be enormous and Shaiman would leave the stage.
Arturo Diez Boscovich then presented a very complete piece (“The Break In”) of complicated execution, very well performed by the orchestra and belonging to the comedy The First Wives Club, by Hugh Wilson, a new Oscar nomination for Shaiman and an exemplary score for this much-maligned genre. The infectious rhythm of the music and its varied sound would excite the audience. Continuing with comedy, it was then the turn of Trey Parker‘s animated film South Park: Longer, Bigger and Uncut. The Oscar-nominated song “Blame Canada” would now be performed by Maria Adamuz and the choir, adapted to our Spanish under the title “Cruel Canada” and with suitably delirious lyrics. The reaction of those present was one of total surrender.
Following a string of Oscar nominations would be a moving suite from Tom Shadyac‘s film Patch Adams, followed by a brilliant suite for Peyton Reed‘s film Down With Love. This extensive piece of music would clearly be the most demanding for the orchestra, given its enormous complexity in terms of brass, now also supported by the choir. The brand new result would be ideal to maintain the fervor of the audience in their devotion to the choral theme “I Will Follow Him”, from Sister Act (Emile Ardolino). A very popular song now brilliantly interpreted by Lorena Calero and María Adamuz, wonderfully accompanied by the choir in what would be a huge musical outburst that made the audience vibrate in their seats.
Shaiman’s most recent Oscar nominations were for Rob Marshall‘s Mary Poppins Returns in the score and song categories. The choir would be an important part of the performance of a sensational musical suite from this film, with Shaiman returning to the stage to confess his childhood passion for Robert Stevenson‘s classic film and its diva Bette Midler. Fulfilling his dreams of collaborating with the singer and composing the music for the character’s belated film sequel is something that would be surpassed by having Midler at the Oscars gala performing her nominated song “The Place Where Lost Things Go.” It would be an emotional moment, as Shaiman would burst into inevitable tears as he remembered Robin Williams and pianist and composer Artie Kane, who passed away a few days earlier. Shaiman’s own affected voice would add even more emotion to the moment, being the song of extreme beauty and giving way to an intense and apotheosis concert finale consisting of two numbers from the musical Hairspray.
One of the highlights of Marc Shaiman‘s career was winning a Tony Award for his musical Hairspray, later adapted to film and a live NBC television broadcast. The symphonic concert at the end of the festival could finish end without including a piece from the show. Sonia Villar and the choir would take the lead in “I Know Where I’ve Been”, a huge number with an important social message, introduced by Marc Shaiman, who, seated at the piano, would provide a valuable accompaniment to the spectacular choral performance and the surprising torrent of Villar’s voice, a performer deservedly applauded by a more than enthusiastic audience.
As if this were not enough, the choice of “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, the final number of Hairspray, would be an unbeatable closing that would not admit the addition of any “encore”. The valuable and vital intervention of the choir would be completed by the voices of Lorena Calero, Maria Adamuz, Albert Bolea, Sonia Villar, and Marc Shaiman himself, interpreting the characters of the musical, in a true musical feast perfect as the end of the party and that was accompanied by the clapping to the rhythm of the audience, standing during the theme and cheering a very grateful cast for such a warm welcome.
Each intervention of Marc Shaiman would raise the audience in what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable night for an artist awarded with the MOSMA Maestros by Antonio Banderas, clearly surrendered to the talent of the musician, to whom he would dedicate some warm words of thanks.
Marc Shaiman‘s big night can be considered one of the most transcendental concerts of all those offered by MOSMA in its seven years of existence. Marc Shaiman‘s presence at the Festival has been a clear success and will always be remembered as one of the most remarkable milestones of the event.
Article by Sergio Hardasmal
Pictures by Rafa Melgar, Pedro Prados & Gorka Oteiza