Monday, February 15, 2010

Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds Live" highlights on MPT

Maryland Public Television aired highlights of a production of Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds Live” (1978), a kind of operetta with the10-piece Black Smoke Band and 36-piece ULLAdubULLA Strings. A holographic image of Richard Burton hangs over the stage, narrating the invasion of Martians. The main website is this. The moog-like music is somewhat repetitive, mostly in minor keys or modes. (The opening motto – “The Eve of the War” -- sounds like two quick d-minor chords, followed by the dominant, which is repeated as two chords to come back down to the tonic, with a pedal point for tension.) Murals of artists’ renditions of the landings appear behind the singers.

Of course, the journalistic style of the H.G. Wells novel lent itself to the public panic that ensued with Orson Welles’s Oct. 30 1938 radio broadcast on CBS. Radio in that day could have an effect on the public analogous to the Internet today. A roughly similar incident happened in 2005 when I was substitute teaching when a screenplay that I had written and posted on my website as taken as “possible future truth”.

Performers include Jeff Wayne, Chris Thompson and Justin Hayward. The performance was recorded at the London Wembley Arena.

The production is quite popular in Europe as well as the UK, but has never caught on in the US. Songs include “Forever autumn.”

The broadcast was punctuated by many funding appeals.

Interview with Jeff Wayne (by Big George)

1 comment:

Arline in Florida said...

You say the WotW is very popular in the U.K. but it never caught on in the U.S. Could it be because it is put on as a theatre show at least once a year in the U.K. and to be best of my knowledge has never been brought to the U.S.? How can we be excited over something we've never had a chance to see? I for one have been dying to see WotW and have written to the web site. They tell me to *stay tuned -- you never know what might happen*. I'm a big fan of Justin Hayward and enjoyed seeing the show on my local PBS. But I certainly would love to see the whole production live here in the U.S.!!!