BWW Review: THE GODFATHER IN CONCERT at Tilles Center At LIU Post: A production "you can't refuse"
"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes." These are just some of the classic lines uttered from Mario Puzo's immortal characters that received thunderous applause during CineConcerts's production of The Godfather in Concert.
In recent years, seeing classic films with a live orchestra has become a huge trend. It was a thrill to see this type of film experience finally hit Long Island. In 2013, Lincoln Center initiated a concert series entitled "The Art of the Score." Some films that have been a part of this series include: Woody Allen's Manhattan, Babe, and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. During the 2017-2018 season, the New York Philharmonic will be presenting the original Star Wars trilogy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens featuring the scores of the incomparable John Williams. CineConcerts also launched in 2013, establishing an amazing concert series where visual media is incorporated into the live music experience. Founders Justin Freer and Brady Beaubien began this series with Gladiator Live featuring the classic film score by Hans Zimmer and have had continued success with performances of Breakfast at Tiffany's and the animated films of DreamWorks. In 2017, CineConcerts incorporated The Godfather into their repertoire marking the film's 45th anniversary. On May 19, 2017, CineConcerts made sure to stop at the Tilles Center and give Long Islanders the cinematic experience of a lifetime.
While walking in the theater, you immediately felt excitement with the sight of the beautifully lit stage highlighting the endless amounts of seats that would be filled by the talented musicians making their performance debut as the Long Island Concert Orchestra. The Long Island Concert Orchestra formed as a successor after the Long Island Philharmonic disbanded nearly a year ago. The orchestra was conducted under John Beal, a true force of nature in film marketing. Beal composed an endless amount of scores for many film trailers including: Titanic, Star Wars, Forrest Gump and Aladdin, just to name a few. The newly formed Long Island Concert Orchestra was full of life and brought the film watching experience to an entirely different level. The beautiful exquisite performances of the musicians matched the unforgettable performances on screen.
The powerful, lush sounds emanating from the orchestra matched the dramatic and intense scenes. However, their were moments where the orchestra needed to subdue their sound. Especially during the wedding party, where the film cuts in and out of comical scenes of Connie Corleone's wedding and the dramatic scenes in Don Vito Corleone's office. For these scenes, the conductor should have emphasized the crescendos and decrescendos more to control the orchestra's sound. A good example of where they definitely should have altered the volume was after Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) sings "I Have but One Heart" for his cousin Connie and her wedding guests. Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) then has a meeting with his crooning godson. While they walk into the house to talk, the Corleone family begins singing "C'è la luna mezzo mare", which is a comical Italian tarantella. The scene then cuts to the meeting between godfather and godson. Fontane is crying claiming he is at a loss because a Hollywood producer will not cast him in a film role Fontane desperately wants to play. While he cries, he rubs his face and asks, "What do I do uncle? What am I going to do?" Corleone then gets up and screams "You can act like a man! What's the matter with you!?!" Corleone then shakes Fontane and slaps him across the face. It is quite an intense scene, especially since this was a commentary on how Frank Sinatra, who was at the top of his game in 1972, landed the role of Private Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity which ultimately won him an Oscar. When you see The Godfather in a regular movie theater or on Blu-Ray/DVD, you can hear the wedding band playing "C'è la luna mezzo mare" very faintly emphasizing the fun outside, but it's business as usual inside and should be quiet and serious. At this screening of the film with live music, the orchestra continued to blast through the tarantella in its entirety during the Fontane meeting scene, which in turn made the scene farcical. Especially, when Brando slapped Martino clear across the face; it was like watching The Three Stooges; "Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk".
This slight error was the performance's ONLY flaw. The performance overall was a breathtaking experience. I still have chills from the scene where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) saves his father's life in the hospital. Watching Michael move and hide his father's body in a different hospital room knowing that hitmen are going to arrive any moment to whack his father, while the orchestra plays the pulsing haunting tones of Nino Rota's score live was one of the greatest theater experiences of my life.
CineConcerts will be continuing their concert series with the Harry Potter film franchise. Beginning on July 6, 2017, CineConcerts will be touring around the country performing the scores of the first three Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; the remaining films in the franchise will soon follow. You can see if CineConcerts will be producing a show near you at this website: http://harrypotterinconcert.com
Be sure to grab tickets because it will be a theatrical experience you will never forget!