Review: Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

SPECTACULAR: The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performs Doctor Who anthems.
SPECTACULAR: The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performs Doctor Who anthems.

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

TSB Bank Arena, till February 22

Reviewed by Alistair Hughes

Arguably, the original Doctor Who was all about sound effects (even the famous theme was a pioneering experiment in electronic acoustics) while the modern, revived show is all about music.

But even hardened fans of the television programme would have been challenged to imagine that music ever being performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to open the New Zealand Festival.

Doctor Who concerts have been in existence since 2006, growing to headline the Proms in Britain and even travelling to Australia, and last night was Wellington's turn.

A mixture of bombastic anthems and haunting themes were performed by the NZSO with appropriate exuberance and complete authenticity.

New Zealand soprano Anna Pierard, tenor Oliver Sewell and child soprano Mia Vinaccia visibly moved the audience with several choral pieces, not an experience normally expected from a science-fiction TV show.

But these events, not merely concerts, have always been intended as family multimedia events, and kids of all ages - many in costume - were hypnotised by clips from the series on a huge screen hanging above the orchestra.

The appearance of actual creatures from the programme looming across the stage and stalking the aisles created an excited stir among the audience - particularly the Daleks, timidly stroked by reverent young fans as they glided menacingly past.

Charged with pulling all this self-professed mayhem together was the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison.

He proved his mettle from the outset when forced to reassure the audience while technical difficulties delayed the beginning of the show by 15 minutes: "Keep calm", he intoned "I'm the Doctor".

In keeping with his cricket- obsessed portrayal of the Time Lord, many cricket references were made during his entertaining asides, even enviously referencing Brendon McCullum to the audience's loud approval.

One of the world's most famous themes brought the concert to a rousing end, gaining a well- deserved standing ovation.

Doctor Who may be just a television programme to many, but if events like this can interest children in live music and the classics from an early age, then that is worth applauding.

The Dominion Post