‘La La Land’ Live in Concert a Meta, Magical Experience (Review)

“‘La La Land’ in Concert: A Live to Film Celebration” kicked off its tour at the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend.

It was a meta moment: a film about making it in showbiz opening at a legendary venue usually reserved for the most successful acts.

Of course, Best Picture Oscar gaffe withstanding, “La La Land” has had an incredibly successful year. Damien Chazelle’s valentine to Los Angeles and movie musicals has developed a cult following, as evidenced by the sea of yellow dresses — similar to the worn by Emma Stone in the film’s posters — at Friday’s and Saturday’s performances.

Indeed, Stone herself was in attendance the second night, as was Chazelle and other celebrities including Topher Grace.

They joined more than 17,000 fans to see the film’s Oscar-winning composer, Justin Hurwitz, conduct a full orchestra as the film was projected onto a giant screen.

As a concert, the score is the star. Dancers and singers appear on stage in several numbers, but never as Stone’s Mia or Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian. It was a smart choice, since the show’s focus is the music, not the acting.

As for the music itself, attendees are welcomed with “Overture,” a piece that was ultimately dropped from the film, to set the mood. Then “Another Day of Sun” — the film’s infamous freeway opening — plays. Many of the performers in the film reprise their roles for the live show in the catchy number, which features everything from a marching band to hula hoop dancer.

A large ensemble also appears for the following number: “Someone in the Crowd.” But after that, the show settles into a more intimate feeling, with pianist Randy Kerber doing all the heavy lifting, from “Mia & Sebastian’s Theme” to “City of Stars.” Kerber even switches to synth for the upbeat “Start a Fire” (alas, he doesn’t play “I Ran” or “Tainted Love” from the pool party scene, but one man can only do so much).

It’s the…

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