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It’s a La La Land Extravaganza

The heart-tugging movie musical is now an equally memorable live experience. Actually, two experiences.

It’s a La La Land Extravaganza

La La Land, the musical comedy-drama that melted the hearts of moviegoers last year, is back for an encore. A live orchestra will perform the tunes that helped writer and director Damien Chazelle’s film gross more than $445 million and notch a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations. In fact, of the six Academy Awards the film won, two were for original score and original song — the dreamy “City of Stars,” composed by Jason Hurwitz with lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. So, if you loved the movie — and who didn’t? — then you won’t want to miss what can only be described as a La La Land extravaganza on November 11.

It all starts with La La Land in Concert, a showing of the film accompanied by a symphonic orchestra, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Walt Disney Theater. A VIP ticket also gets you La La Land Jazz Experience Seb’s Jazz Club, a VIP experience in the more intimate Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.

The additional show, The VIP experience, beginning at 10:30 p.m., is a cabaret-style performance by the Dr. Phillips Center Jazz Orchestra. The smaller venue will be arranged and lit to re-create the look and feel of Seb’s, the now-iconic jazz club from the movie. In an art-meets-life mashup, the arts center’s orchestra — under the direction of Rodney Whitaker — will play music from the film along with other jazz standards. And it’ll seem as though you happened onto the world’s coolest big-city nightspot — complete with a full bar, tables and chairs on the floor and gallery seating above.

It’s no wonder that La La Land has spawned a cottage industry of live-performance events. It’s basically an homage — love letter, really —to classic movie musicals that are still enjoyed today, generations after they were released. The blockbuster film, set in present-day Los Angeles, explores the personal and professional struggles of an aspiring actress named Mia (played by Emma Stone) and a jazz pianist named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who are pursuing their dreams and, of course, falling in love.

The storyline is enhanced with singing and dancing, vibrant colors and lush orchestrations. Critics called it terrific entertainment — and its sweetly nostalgic vibe clearly struck a literal and figurative chord in an era marked by division and political turmoil.

In addition to winning Academy Awards for best score and best original song, La La Land won for best direction, actress (Stone), production design and cinematography.

Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers wrote that La La Land “does nothing less than jolt the movie musical to life for the 21st century. It sweeps you away on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.”

La La Land in Concert premiered over the Memorial Day weekend at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, where many women in the audience arrived wearing yellow dresses like the one Stone sported in the film. The flick was projected onto a giant screen while a 100-piece orchestra — conducted by Hurwitz — played in synch with the actors’ singing and dancing — a challenge for even the most experienced musicians.

The live event won raves from fans and critics alike. Variety called La La Land in Concert “a magical live musical production for a movie that celebrates the magic of live music.”

−Dana S. Eagles excerpted from artsLife