Film audiences have been captivated by the thrills of the animated ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and its newly told take of an Afro-Latinx teen given mysterious super powers once bitten by a radioactive spider. But what happens when those same chills and thrills spill onto the live stage?
Audiences will find out on Tuesday, Oct. 24, when Emily Marshall—the Musical Director and Conductor of the New York City-based, all female, all BiPOC Broadway Sinfonietta—leads her orchestra through the paces of ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘, live and in-concert at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus.
Paired with a screening of the Academy Award-winning animated film, Marshall’s full orchestra welcomes turntablists to re-imagine composer Daniel Pemberton’s boldly sprawling score in a fashion as incendiary as the film itself.
Marshall comes to ‘Spider-Man’ as a child prodigy pianist and an Ithaca College graduate with Broadway credits including associate conductor for ‘Jagged Little Pill’, a keyboard programmer for ‘Annie’, and a vocal arranger for ‘Be More Chill’.
“I didn’t know what a ‘musical director’ was when I started, but I liked the sound of those two words together, so I went for it,” said Marshall with a laugh, talking about her earliest experiences on the stage with Jonathan Larson’s ‘Tick, Tick…. Boom’, and how that director’s gig was the best combination of her skills in one job. “I danced as a child, so I understood musical accompaniment, and I loved collaboration – it’s my favorite part of working in the music industry. I didn’t want to just be a classical pianist because it always seemed like such a lonely career, so that’s how I got to that job, and those artistic teams. I could have a say in where and how these shows operate.”
Bringing music to new life and getting inside the brain of composers such as Be More Chill’s Joe Iconis or Daniel Pemberton’s original “Spider-Man” film score is most challenging for Marshall. Operating as the Musical Director and Conductor of the all-female, all-BiPOC ensemble is the icing on a lovely cake, as Marshall had the ‘Spider-Man’ orchestration role before the Broadway Sinfonietta got involved.
“It’s important, beautiful and impactful that audiences are getting to witness a strong all-woman orchestra on stage,” said Marshall of the visceral nature of the Broadway Sinfonietta. “Unlike a Broadway show where musicians are unseen in a pit, we truly highlight and spotlight the musicians on stage. When the film ends, people might think that the night is over. But we actually bump up the music, loudly, at the end and make it into an eight-minute concert. People get the chance to truly see everyone at work, like the timpanist drawing back and slamming her instrument, or a woman doing her drum solo. It’s really cool.”
This live orchestration to screening event is filled with rich, rhythmic sounds from the world of hip hop. “What we’re doing is re-producing the ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ film score to a live audience every night,” said Marshall. “Luckily this score is so provocative, and added to that is the fact that we have our 13-piece orchestra, three percussionists and live Foley FX playing with a live DJ adding his scratching and his percussive elements to the mix – something that I have never worked with before. The DJ’s sound adds so much to the sonic landscape, a sound that was painstakingly recorded in the studio to match the picture. So, we have quite a job ahead of us, re-creating the score in front of us as perfectly as we can.
“This live ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is not the orchestral program that most people have come to expect. You’ll really feel this music on stage.”