Elmer in concert

By Michelle Qiao (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-31 09:24
Elmer in concertWhere, oh where is Elmer the Elephant? It seems he's gone missing from the zoo. Michelle Qiao says kids will be delighted with the music, magic, pantomime and dance presentation as he is lured back to the Shanghai Concert Hall.

Children will be enchanted by a "zoo" concert for Children's Day on Friday and Saturday as a renowned American comedy motion artist teams up with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra to find Elmer the Elephant.

Last year the orchestra performed concerts with a football game theme and in 2005 the theme was "bugs" or insects. This year it stages a zoo concert with mime artist Dan Kamin.

"The concert will feature great classic masterpieces that everybody should be familiar with," says Kamin, who will be at center stage. "The orchestra will start a regular concert and I will come up to the stage to interrupt it to look for the lost 'elephant'."

The concert with music, magic, pantomime and dance will tell the story of elephant Elmer who escapes from the zoo. The zookeeper (Kamin) is trying to recapture him. He decides to make a delicious cake to lure Elmer back. On stage will be an oven, flour, sugar and eggs.

"I'm curious what I'm going to look like in the concert," says Fu Renchang who will conduct the children's concert for the third year at the Shanghai Concert Hall. "I wore a pair of dragonfly wings on my back in 2005 and a pair of football shoes last year. It was funny and relaxing. I never imagined that a conductor could wear clothes like this and that the music could be that interesting.

"This kind of concerts can fire the imaginations of the children and nurture their interest in music."

Kamin has performed worldwide for theaters, colleges and symphony orchestras. On film, he created the physical comedy sequences for "Chaplin" and "Benny and Joon," and trained Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp for their acclaimed performances. He also created Martian movement for Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"

Kamin's beginnings were humble. Though he was a skilled boy magician at the age of 12, he went on to Carnegie Mellon University to study industrial design. Then he saw the eye-popping movement illusions practiced by master mime Jewel Walker. He promptly became the sorcerer's apprentice.

The great silent comedy films of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin added more fuel to his fire, and soon Kamin was touring the country with his first original show, "Silent Comedy."

Undeterred by the fact that vaudeville was long dead, he cobbled a new vaudeville circuit out of colleges, theaters and schools. His "Comedy Concertos," which blend low-brow comedy with highbrow music, have become popular with symphonies worldwide.

For the Shanghai concert, Kamin has selected an Australia-born Chinese girl Yvette Ling from many candidates as hostess.

Elmer the Elephant in concert
Date: June 1-2, 7:30pm
Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Donglu}
Tickets: 80-300 yuan
Tel: 021-64333574