Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 25, 2013

TSO brings 'Frankenstein' to life on big screen

TRAVERSE CITY — Michael Shapiro is a big fan of the 1931 Universal Pictures horror film “Frankenstein.” There’s just one thing missing, he said: a music track.

“In the early days of the talkies they did not have the technology to have a music track,” said the New York-based composer, pianist and conductor, who set out to right that wrong by creating a score to accompany the film.

Shapiro will conduct members of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra in two live performances of the film score — all 2,000 measures of it, including an overture — to the original version of the movie on the big screen. The shows begin at 6 and 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at the State Theater in downtown Traverse City.

Director James Whale's adaptation of the Gothic Mary Shelly novel stars Colin Clive and Boris Karloff as a scientist obsessed with assembling a living being from parts of exhumed corpses, and the monster he creates. It became an instant horror classic when it premiered in Santa Barbara in 1931, according to Turner Classic Movies, which typically airs the movie around Halloween. The 70-minute screen version is still regarded as one of the most iconic horror films in movie history.

The TSO will perform alongside the restored, 75th Anniversary Edition on DVD, which includes two original scenes later cut from the film.

“It’s a classical movie but a contemporary composition, which gives it a completely different kind of emotional underpinning,” said Shapiro, who composes opera, symphonic, chamber and choral works as well as scores for documentaries like a series of upcoming specials for "Dateline NBC."

The art deco-style State Theater is the perfect setting for the 1931 film, and musicians will dress accordingly, said Rick Jaissle, TSO manager of operations and orchestra personnel.

“We’re going to go with 1930s chic, formal,” Jaissle said. “And if (the audience) wants to dress up in black tie, I think this is a perfect occasion. Back then, people dressed up to go out.”

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