Review: Movies At The Mann celebrates film music by starlight

By Amy A. Winnemore

The thundering roar of a Tyrannosaurus rex rang through The Mann Center last Saturday.  The king of the dinosaurs, along with Velociraptors and a Brachiosaurus, were projected in high definition as part of The Mann Center’s “Jurassic Park in Concert.”  With the Philadelphia Orchestra performing the score live, it brought a newfound excitement to re-watching the 1993 summer blockbuster.  

As part of the Movies at The Mann series, “Jurassic Park” fans were part of a full sensory experience as the Orchestra, conducted by Aram Demirjian, heightened the excitement and anxiety as they performed the award-winning score by John Williams.  Even though I’ve seen the movie many times, listening to the memorable music being performed live made it feel like I was in high school again watching the movie for the first time.  When the helicopter carrying Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, Dr. Ian Malcolm and John Hammond approaches Isla Nublar, you’re swept away to begin this unknown adventure with “Journey to the Island.”  After hearing the rapid melodies from the horns and woodwinds fill the air during “T-Rex Rescue and Finale,” fans cheered as if they were unsure of the outcome.

The concert reminded me of a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” experience.  Many in the audience were wearing “Jurassic Park” T-shirts and a few were dressed as Alan, sporting safari hats, as well as Ellie, wearing high-waist khaki shorts and short-sleeve button-down shirts.  Fans cheered for Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm) whenever he was onscreen, and especially when he was (for unknown reasons) lounging nearly shirtless in multiple scenes.  When Samuel L. Jackson (as ill-fated Ray Arnold) uttered, “hold onto your butts,” audience members clapped in support.

On a warm Saturday night, with orchestra members wearing white golf shirts, it was quintessential casual summertime fun.

If you go: The Movies at the Mann series continues this Friday, July 28 with “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert” with The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia.  Then on Thursday, Aug. 17, the musical hit “La La Land” comes to the Mann stage for a live-to-film performance under the summer stars with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.  For all Movies at the Mann performances, audience members are encouraged to pack a picnic and enjoy a night of music and film under the stars.