Reflections on Arts Events at Comic-Con

Paul and Storm. (Photo by Glenn Peters).

Paul and Storm. (Photo by Glenn Peters).

The team behind Comic-Con International has been thinking of different ways to expand the extremely popular convention. This includes adding additional happenings throughout America’s Finest City that tie into the famous pop culture extravaganza. Below is a list of arts events that occurred at, or not too distant from, the convention center in 2015.

Wednesday-Sunday: Gam3rcon: At the Tenth Avenue Arts Center, an assemblage solely focused on gaming spanned over five busy days. Based on the title, it would appear that visitors would only stop by to compete in board games and video games. Surprisingly, there were different kinds of entertainment ranging from an art gallery to comedy from the USAopoly improv group. Two shows played during Gam3rcon. GAM3RS: the Play and NOMADS presents Mindset, or: Allegory of the Gamercave gave attendees an opportunity to enjoy theatrical experiences that are not often found at the con. For those who could not attend, Gam3rcon will return in 2016.

Thursday-Saturday: San Diego Symphony: Talk about taking advantage of the festivities. The Symphony had four big musical experiences, including a newsworthy surprise on Friday night.

Embarcadero Marina Park South was home to Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions on Thursday, which incorporated music from the famous Nintendo franchise with video game clips. Although viewers bought tickets to Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions in advance, no attendee was prepared for what the Symphony had planned the following night.

During the “Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens” panel in Hall H on Friday, movie lovers expected to witness the cast members and director; J.J Abrams talk about the highly anticipated epic. Upon conclusion, Abrams invited everyone in the room to view the Symphony perform a live concert with excerpts of John Williams’ iconic score at the Embarcadero. The evening helped the Symphony gain more exposure and was considered to be a major success.

On Saturday, Copley Symphony Hall had the fantasy themed The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. The presentation involved several members of the same team behind Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions including composer, Chad Seiter.

Michael Giacchino. (Photo by Maria Giacchino.)

Michael Giacchino. (Photo by Maria Giacchino.)

Around the same time, back at the Embarcadero, Trekkies roamed at a special screening of “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” Before the showing, Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino gave a brief introduction announcing that he will be scoring the 50th anniversary “Star Trek” film, “Star Trek Beyond.”

Despite early technical issues with the visuals and a ridiculously loud party boat going by, Hollywood conductor and composer, David Newman, led the Symphony with explosive energy. He handled Giacchino’s theme as well as Alexander Courage’s original television music with the care required for such a beloved science fiction saga.

Adding intensity to the evening was the chorus, SACRA/PROFANA. During the piece, “The Kronos Wartet,” their angry Klingon inspired chanting created an unearthly tone that worked even better live than on the silver screen. If director, Justin Lin’s “Star Trek Beyond” is anywhere as good as Abrams’ previous flicks for the franchise, the Symphony should consider bringing back Newman and the acclaimed choir.

Thursday: wOOtstock 7.0: Labeled as “geek vaudeville,” the Balboa Theatre was home to nerd celebrities such as Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm and “Mythbusters” co-host, Adam Savage. A variety of acts ranging from songs, stand up comedy and personal anecdotes were played to a packed house.

Almost four hours long, the time flew by with frequent laughs even as audience members were arriving. The biggest strength was arguably the genuine affection the stars seemed to have for each other and the crowd. Paul and Storm brotherly hugs and Wheaton thanking viewers for making wOOtstock so meaningful provided heart in the theatre.

Friday: Klingon Lifestyles: Possibly the only play that occurred at the convention this year. In room 6A, Klingons invaded the room in a complicated plot revolving around several members of the humanoid alien species and a worthy adversary. Admittedly, the “Star Trek” influenced tale can be hard to follow especially with so much packed in an almost one hour show. Yet, the adventure was still irresistible to watch because of intentionally silly humor and surprisingly strong sword fights. This year was the “22nd annual Klingon stage play” and those in the mood for drama should give the 23rd chapter a chance.

There was no shortage of live entertainment this summer, yet there will likely be even more in the future. Perhaps, the recent Tony Award winner for best musical, Fun Home, based on an autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, will have a San Diego premiere during Comic-Con 2016. At least, I am hoping this will be a real possibility.

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Embaradero Marina Park
400 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101
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