Barbie at the Symphony: A tale of two viewpoints
Hey there, today I've got a guest post from my colleague, Adam Bisby, an editor for our life and entertainment sections. Here he shares his experience taking two four-year-old girls to Barbie at the Symphony. - Brandie
As a 30-something dad escorting two giggling four-year-olds to the first of two Barbie at the Symphony performances at the Sony Centre, I was torn.
On one hand, there was Barbie. We all know her as an iconic fashion-forward doll made by Mattel. Her fans young and not-so-young also know her as a superstar singer, dancer, actor, model, entrepreneur, marine biologist…the list goes on. Fact is, beautiful, accomplished Barbie is easy to idolize. Her detractors, meanwhile, say she promotes an unrealistic body image for young women (with estimated measurements of 36-18-33). Fact is, I’m thankful my daughter Ava and friend Olive don’t yet know what those numbers mean.
On the other, there was the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, which accompanied clips of Barbie’s various movies and music videos throughout last night’s 90-minute Sony Centre show. The nearly five-dozen musicians, along with conductor/producer/narrator Arnie Roth, made beautiful — and iconic — music, such as movements from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and Dvorak's Symphony from the New World. With images of Barbie and friends projected on a not-quite-large-enough screen above the orchestra, her rapt fans definitely seemed more inclined to appreciate — and in some cases, enjoy and even dance to — a full slate of “serious, adult” music. If you’ve read classical music critic John Teraud’s excellent set-up story in Thursday’s Star , you’ll know this is among the production’s goals. For a casual classical fan such as myself, it was nice to hear these timeless pieces performed by professionals in a live setting. Did I need some distraction from Barbie’s animated adventures, or from the steady crescendo of squeals from the audience? It certainly didn’t hurt.
Put them together, quite literally, and you’ve got Barbie at the Symphony. There were a few nifty moments of interaction — like when Barbie conducted puppet master-style from on high — and another fun and educational sequence when conductor Roth showed off the various sections of the orchestra. But most of the show consisted of video clips with scores played live over top. For fans of this material, it looked like seventh heaven. And for this dad, who has had to suffer through certain D-list kids’ productions — Backyardigans Under the Sea, anyone? — it was an oddly enjoyable night out with his daughter and her friend, even if a questionable (and highly influential and marketable) icon was the standard bearer for the show’s laudable goal.
WHAT: Barbie at the Symphony
WHERE: Sony Centre For The Performing Arts
WHEN: Today at 1 p.m.
TICKETS: $25.50-$55.50 at ticketmaster.ca