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)