Most people don’t think of symphony orchestras as having much to do with comedy, nor do people tend to consider symphonies to be fresh, vibrant, and experimental in their collaborations.
Second City is looking to change that. The lauded improv theater and touring company has, for just the second time and the first in more than five years, embarked on their tour Comedy at the Symphony with Second City, conducted by Case Scaglione. They describe it as “"a blend of original sketch comedy, new music and orchestral classics” and Dallas is lucky enough to land a piece of their limited run, performing with the Dallas Symphony at the Meyerson Symphony Center.
TheaterJones spoke with Sophie Santerre, associate producer of the show, and composer Matt Reid.
TheaterJones: I know this isn't the first time Second City's guide to the symphony has run. What's the show's origin story?
Sophie Santerre: The Second City Guide to the Symphony debuted with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in late 2014. Founded in 1922, the TSO is one of Toronto’s—and Canada’s—most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally, and a distinguished and active supporter of new Canadian and international work. The Second City has delighted audiences for more than 55 years as the world's premier comedy theatre, with resident stages in Toronto and Chicago, and touring companies all over the world. The TSO and The Second City are pleased to present this unique collaboration, with the hope of sharing the symphony with comedy fans, and vice versa.
Why the long hiatus? Has the show been updated or rewritten at all in the last five years?
With everything the Second City does, we try to stay topical with all our material, and all our writing allows for these changes to happen naturally over time.
When I think of classical music and comedy, I think of Victor Borge. Is the show inspired by or bear any similarity to his work?
In a word: not really. Borge's work is much more similar to that of the stand-up comedian. Our show is a comedic, musical revue—much like a sketch show that you would see at Second City—only with considerably more musicians involved, like 99 or so and original music inspired by the classical masters. Second City humor often comes from honest or real life inspiration (as in many sitcoms), but there is certainly room for some goofy, high-concept stuff as well. Not as much slapstick as Borge although sometimes composer Matthew Reid falls off the piano bench if he's had too much to drink before the show. That's pretty much every show.
This certainly does appear to be a limited engagement, with just three shows over the next three months. How was Dallas able to make the cut?
We thought it would be an incredible opportunity for our troupe to work with the Dallas Symphony.
Without creating spoilers, what does "a satirical but loving look at...even the audience." mean? Is there an element of interactivity in the show?
We wouldn’t be the Second City without getting the audience to participate in one way or another.