Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

Last night, the Captain and I attended the WA Symphony Orchestra’s Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, and spectacular was the word for it! The entire show was perfect, not just the music, which was incredible, but the lighting and effects, the performers and the digital component.

The Spectacular features the music of Murray Gold, the composer behind all of the music for Doctor Who since its 2005 revival, and was conducted by Who-orchestrator (and total cutie) Ben Foster. It also featured Australian soprano Antoinette Halloran, whose voice was simply breathtaking.

Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, hosted the event, and did a great job with it. The acted parts were very cheesy, but in the best possible way – it was funny, silly and very kid-friendly. I really liked that the focus was really on the incredible music and the way that it ties in with the show, with scenes and compilations displayed on a couple of screens behind the orchestra (which also provided a nice distraction at times when I found myself getting overwhelmed by it all).

The only thing that I didn’t love about the show was the venue. Perth Arena is a really great space for lots of things, but it felt so big and distant for a symphony. The acoustics at the Arena are great, so there was no negative impact on the music itself from the venue, it was purely an atmosphere thing. I prefer the Perth Concert Hall, which has a much cosier, more welcoming environment. That said, I’m not sure that they could have done everything they wanted to do for this show there, so the Arena may have been the only option.

While I was really excited to go to this, I didn’t know much about it going in – initially we thought we’d missed out, but then C’s work announced that they had tickets for the corporate box, and apparently none of the higher ups were nerdy enough to want to go. Perfect! But the shorter notice (and the fact that I hadn’t wanted to find out much about it since I was convinced we couldn’t go) meant that I didn’t really know what to expect.

When I was a kid, my family went to a lot of WASO shows, first with the kids concerts and later the more grown up shows. I also played cello as a kid (never particularly well) and sang too (slightly better than my cello playing, but that’s not saying much), and when I gave that up late in high school I never really gave the symphony much more thought.

Having such a long break from going to a full symphonic show, I was surprised at how much of an effect the performance had on me. I was moved to tears at the beginning, just by the sheer scale and grandeur and that full sound that you just can’t get anywhere else.

The WASO and WASO chorus put on a brilliant show, the music was absolutely perfect. I also loved the lighting! The show used lights within the orchestra itself as well as the spots with various designs swinging out over the crowd and the colour washes, which really helped to set the mood. Also, smoke machines. Smoke machines are always fun (although goodness knows how anyone can keep singing/playing with that stuff blowing in their faces. I guess that’s why they’re the pros!).

The digital aspect, with content from the shows (mostly recent seasons, since those are what the music was specifically written for, but the older doctors were still featured) was so, so good. Seeing all the companions from the ninth, tenth and eleventh doctors made me tear up even more, and now I have to watch those seasons again. Oh Donna, I miss you!

The performers for the show seemed really good – there were heaps of cool costumes: the Ood! I love the Ood! Daleks and Cybermen (of course!), The Silence, Judoon. I think I spotted a Weeping Angel, a Silurian and maybe a Sontaran? It was a bit hard to tell from up the top, it was a long way from the action. That was one downside, and if it had been possible I would have loved to have been down with the hoi polloi. Also, because people in the boxes are often there just because the tickets are free, we were among people who apparently didn’t know the difference between Daleks and Cybermen. Handy hint: If it says things like “upgraded” and “you will be deleted”, it’s not a Dalek.

So my overall thoughts on all the amazing people who made last night’s show happen?

Sing it, Number 9