Batman 1989 in concert review- The Chicago Philharmonic at the Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre presents Batman 1989
Spread the love

 On April 13, 2024, the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago, continued the inaugural season of its Auditorium Philms Concert Series, a new multi-media experience presenting iconic films brought to life with scores performed in concert by the Chicago Philharmonic, with a 35th Anniversary Celebration of the DC Superhero film Batman 1989 in concert. The movie was shown on a huge screen while the fine 50-person orchestra led by Conductor/music auteur James Olmstead performed Danny Elfman’s best-selling score live in super-perfect synchronization.

 Audience members, who had been encouraged to dress as their favorite DC superhero, filled the theater, clapping and cheering to the sight of Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, to Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker, to Jerry Hall and Kim Basinger as weeping/shrieking arm candy, and to Jack Palance in a gem-like supporting role as mob-boss Carl Grissom.

35 years ago, the now-classic film, produced by Peter Guber and Jon Peters, directed by Tim Burton, was a blockbuster, despite a large cast, enormous production crew, and rapidly escalating budget. Filmed at the famous Pinewood Studios in England, its art direction won an Oscar, amid numerous nominations. While the so-called special effects of that era can no longer enthrall a younger jaded audience overfed on digitally enhanced megaheroes, the dark, grainy, sardonic quasi-magical realism of Gotham City, underpinning a script infused with an oddball black humor is still intellectually enthralling and resurrected a superhero and his genre.

The Chicago Philharmonic conducted by James Olstead

At this viewing, the score was the thing; performing on a world-class stage, under the Auditorium’s magnificent proscenium arch, amid the gilt and red velvet of Architect Louis Sullivan’s expansive theatre, the Philharmonic was the main event. They controlled, enhanced, and sent soaring into the house the 30-song score. The movie was one of the first to emanate as two soundtrack’s, one pure Elfman, arranged by Shirley Walker and Oingo-Boingo lead guitarist Steve Bartek, and one featured songs by Prince; both were successful;  the film garnered a GRAMMY win for the main theme. Later, pieces of the score served as the basis for the theme music and initially played in later iterations of Batman: The Animated Series as well as spin off licensed works, later films, and associated video/music entities.

The Chicago Philharmonic, founded by musicians of the Lyric Opera Orchestra in the same year as Batman 1989 was released, is a collaboration of over 200 of the highest-level classical musicians in the Midwest. Called one of the country’s finest symphonic orchestras, with a roster of unique chamber music ensembles performing as Chicago Phil Chamber, it is unique in the broad range of its structure and the versatility of its work. Providing the underpinning for films like Batman 1989, for the Joffrey and other ballet troupes, it presents classical, jazz, pop, and extensive outreach programming.

Moviegoers dressed as Bruce Wayne and Batman

For information and tickets to the Auditorium Theatres wide range of programming, go to

For information and tickets to all the concerts of The Chicago Philharmonic, go to

All photos by Azuree Holloway


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.