Q&A: The Second City Guide to the Symphony

Producer Klaus Schuller on The Second City's comic collaboration with the TSO

Hosted by Colin Mochrie
Musical Director: Peter Oundjian

Theatregoers are in for a rare treat this month: The Second City is paring up with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) to present The Second City Guide to the Symphony, a unique comedy-meets-classical music show, on stage for two performances only (Nov 29 & 30) at Roy Thomson Hall. Hosted by Canadian comedy favourite Colin Mochrie and conducted by TSO's musical director Peter Oundjian, this light-hearted performance takes on all things orchestral, from classical music history and conventions to the manners and mannerisms of the audience.

We caught up with The Second City executive director and producer Klaus Schuller to find out more about this symphonious satire.

Theatromania: What inspired The Second City Guide to the Symphony?

KS: Opera diva Renée Fleming had come to see one of our shows in Chicago, and heard her own voice sampled in a track by our musical director Jesse Case. Rather than sue us, Renée proposed that we work together, and the very next day the process started. The project that grew from that conversation was a collaboration with Lyric Opera Chicago called The Second City Guide to the Opera, and it was a huge success. It sold out not only its debut concert, but went on to a long sold-out run on the Lyric stage. That success led to an exploratory discussion with the TSO during which we discovered not only our mutual admiration, but how much we had in common as artists. We decided we needed to do something together.

Theatromania: How would you describe this production in a few sentences?

KS: It's a celebration of our shared love of the symphony orchestra. We take a comic look at the organization, its audience, the repertoire, the personalities—everything is fair game. The result is a mix of sketches, improvisations, classical favourites, and wonderful original songs by our resident composer Matthew Reid. Oh, and it's really funny.

Theatromania: What are some of the challenges in staging a show that combines music and comedy?

KS: You certainly have to be more prepared than usual. Creating original scores for a world-class symphony orchestra is a complex and lengthy process. We also have had to bring real musical chops to the process, and we're extraordinarily fortunate to have a cast of Second City mainstage performers and alumni who are up to the challenge.

Theatromania: What have you learned from this process so far?

KS: We've learned that the artists and staff of the TSO are really funny and wonderfully collaborative. It has been a real joy to work with Peter Oundjian on this project. He has embraced the "yes and" spirit of The Second City, and pushed us to always go further and be willing to try anything.

Theatromania: What do you hope audiences get out of this performance?

KS: A lot of laughter. But beyond that, I hope that theatregoers pack the seats of Roy Thomson Hall and discover how lucky we are to have an orchestra of this caliber in our city. Go to the symphony, folks. It's amazing!

The Second City Guide to the Symphony runs November 29 & 30 at Roy Thomson Hall. Tickets $29 - $99. Visit tso.ca for more information.

Show Dates: 
Sat, 2014-11-29 - Sun, 2014-11-30



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