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What's Up at the Eastman Theatre? The Wascally Wabbit Joins the Wachester Philharmonic

December 22, 2006

The RPO and vintage cartoons bring laughter and joviality to Pops concerts in Bugs Bunny on Broadway

Rochester, NY – It’s been called everything from “hilarious” (NY Times) to “spectacular” (NY Post) to “irresistible” (The Sydney Morning Herald), receiving “four carrots, highest rating!”  On Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 13, at 8:00 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre, the brash, Brooklyn-accented, carrot-munching “Wascally Wabbit” – otherwise known as Bugs Bunny – makes his “animated” appearance with friends Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, and more of his classic colleagues, as the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performs “Bugs Bunny On Broadway” presented by Warner Bros. Studios.  Conducted by the show’s creator, George Daugherty, the RPO performs the classically-inspired music with on-screen vintage Warner Bros. cartoons including The Ride of the Valkyries, What’s Opera, Doc?, A Corny Concerto, High Note, Baton Bunny, and, what has become a cult classic, The Rabbit of Seville

Many adults had their first introduction to the music of Wagner, Strauss, Smetana, Rossini and Donizetti through hours watching “Looney Tunes” on television.  Composer, arranger, and music innovator Carl W. Stalling was responsible for taking popular classics and making original arrangements to fit the wacky, zany and brilliantly animated spoofs.  With tongue firmly planted in cheek, opera singers, conductors, soloists and orchestral musicians were the subject of these classical music parodies. The now-legendary cartoons were brought to life by the late animation director Chuck Jones.  From the 1940s -1960s, he produced some of the most famous Warner Bros. “Looney Tunes” characters that appear in “Bugs Bunny On Broadway.” 

In 1990, George Daugherty created, directed and conducted the hit Broadway musical “Bugs Bunny On Broadway,” a live orchestra and film stage production which sold out its extended run at New York’s Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, and played to critical acclaim and sold-out houses throughout the country.  The production embarked on a worldwide concert tour in 1996 with a sold-out one week engagement at the famed Sydney Opera House in Australia, followed by performances in London, Wales, Central and South America, Russia, Japan, China and Korea.

Daugherty made his unplanned professional guest conducting debut in 1979 at age 22 for a ballet gala with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the Eastman Theatre, when he was called at the last minute to fill in for ailing ballet conductor John Lanchbery.  At the time, Daugherty was an assistant at the American Ballet Theatre, with not one performance under his belt.  With that auspicious debut, Mr. Daugherty has gone on to conduct the world’s leading orchestras, ballet companies, operas houses, and concert artists.  He is also an Emmy Award-winning/five-time Emmy nominated creator whose professional profile includes major credits as a director, writer and producer for television, film, innovative and unique concerts, and the live theater.  He is currently Music Director and Conductor of London’s new chamber and symphony orchestra, Sinfonia Britannia. 

Tickets for these performances are $20-$56, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at any Wegmans locations.  RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Wegmans is open seven days a week. A convenience fee may apply.  The WPOP Series is sponsored by Wegmans; this concert is sponsored by Zimmer Sales & Services.

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in recent years.

RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 

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