Nightmare Before Christmas Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Over Halloweekend (apparently this is a thing now) we got a chance to see the original cast of The Nightmare Before Christmas perform it live at the Hollywood Bowl! A few years ago we were able to see Danny Elfman performing a medley of the songs at LA Live, with special guest appearances by Catherine O’Hara for “Sally’s Song” and Tim Burton for mumbling and shuffling around the stage. But this show was the entire movie with live accompaniment by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and live renditions of all the songs by Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Reubens, and Ken Page—plus original supporting character voice Greg Proops and additional voice actors Angie Jaree, Fletcher Sheridan, Baraka May Williams and Randy Crenshaw.

The Bowl was all dressed up for Halloween, with added festivities like trick-or-treat stations, photo spots and a costume contest!

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As at The Little Mermaid Live, we were not allowed to bring in professional camera equipment, so my iPhone photos will have to do.  Amazingly, they also allowed us to take videos, so I captured some of the key performances (though not as many as I would have liked, due to my ineptitude with the video function on my phone).

The stage was appropriately spooky for the event.

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The show started with a real treat: Disney’s Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance with live accompaniment. It sounded amazing with a full orchestra!

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Next, the orchestra, conducted by John Mauceri, performed the “Nightmare Before Christmas Suite,” accompanied by Tim Burton’s concept art for the movie.

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The movie started with Danny Elfman reading the narration from offstage, but he didn’t make an appearance until Jack’s first song, “This Is Halloween.”

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The additional voice actors were first on the stage, in appropriately wacky attire and doing spot-on renditions of the characters who populate Halloweentown.

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When Danny Elfman finally took the stage, the audience went wild.

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It was fantastic to see him act out the part as he sang, but just as fascinating to watch him listen to the orchestra play his own music in between songs. I wonder if it was a treat for him to enjoy it without conducting, or if it was stressful not being able to control the performance!

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I managed to get a video of Elfman performing “What’s This” with all the gusto you’d expect!

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Probably the highlight of the evening was when Elfman was joined onstage by Paul Reubens (Lock) and Catherine O’Hara (Shock) to sing “Kidnap the Sandy Claws” as Lock, Shock and Barrel. I thought I had a spectacular video of this one for you but, alas, had not pressed record—ARGH!!! Instead, how about some blurry AND overexposed photos?

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My favorite!

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Time for Intermission…

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….And we’re back!

As at The Little Mermaid, energetic violin soloist Sandy Cameron kicked off the second act in one of her signature flamboyant costumes and acrobatic style. She moves so fast, she’s really hard to photograph!

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On with the show!

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When Ken Page took the stage to perform “Oogie Boogie’s Song,” the audience went so crazy, Patrick thought maybe it was a surprise appearance.

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Boy, has that man got a set of pipes! His performance was pitch-perfect.

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When Catherine O’Hara came out to perform “Sally’s Song,” she had Sally’s stitches on her neck!

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I’m kicking myself for goofing this one up, but at least I got half the song! Her voice has such a wonderful, vulnerable quality—perfect for Sally.

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At the end, she and Elfman returned for “Finale/Reprise,” the romantic ending to the film. It was such a treat to watch them perform together, entering the stage from opposite sides to meet in the middle.

During the credits, we finally got to see some closeups of the orchestra. So here’s what they look like…

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Curtain call…

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Paul Reubens personally thanking us for attending…

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And then, another treat: Danny Elfman performed “Oogie Boogie’s Song” in Cab Calloway style. He doesn’t have Ken Page’s pipes, but he’s sure got some moves!

To cap the night, Elfman brought Oingo Boingo bandmate Steve Bartek onstage and they performed “Dead Man’s Party” backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra!

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The rain that had threatened all evening finally appeared and we all crowded the stage to watch this historic performance. At the end of the show, you could tell Elfman was on Cloud Nine, and I felt as proud for him as if he were my friend. Who woulda thunk all those years ago when Nightmare Before Christmas debuted that it would achieve such iconic status?

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On our way out, we snapped just a few of the many fabulous costumes. This woman’s mask was stunning!

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And I loved these!

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Supposedly this was the last time Elfman & Co. will perform The Nightmare Before Christmas live, but what he actually said before the show was that he would only do it if he could get all the original cast members back. Here’s hoping that they had so much fun this year, they’ll be up for doing it again next year!

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