Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 1, 2019

Family Fright Night Offers Less Fright, More Fun

Chloe Leckrone


The Manchester Symphony Orchestra invited the younger members of the North Manchester community to campus on Monday, October 28, for the Family Fright Night concert to amp up excitement for Halloween.

Walking into Cordier Auditorium Monday night for games and other activities for the children that began at 5 p.m., the scent of sugary elephant ears blended with the sound of fallen leaves crunching under feet to capture perfectly the switch from summer to fall. Inside Cordier’s lobby, Halloween decorations hung on the walls and from the ceilings. Tables were set up with fall-themed artwork made by children from Manchester Elementary School, including drawings of scarecrows, leaves and friendly owls. Kids were also able to get their faces painted and take photos with spooky accessories. Much of the action took place right outside the auditorium, with cornhole, a ring toss and chalk drawing organized around the Oak Leaf; autumn activities surrounding the unofficial symbol of a classic Indiana fall.

The concert, which doubled as a VIA for students, began at 7:30 p.m., as conductor Scott Humphries walked out and introduced himself as a character from “Star Trek.” Orchestra members, as well as attendees of the concert, were encouraged to dress up in their Halloween costumes. Onstage, it was easy to see all the costumed players, including pirates, devils and students from “Harry Potter.” The performance began with selections from “Phantom of the Opera” and played the audience through many timeless songs from the musical.

The always-recognizable theme was a beautiful, haunting start to the concert, and was thoroughly enjoyed by audience members. “My favorite part of the show was ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” said Shayla Rigsbee, senior social work major. “They just really captured the essence of the musical.” Highlights throughout the concert included a Danny Elfman Suite, including the song “This is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the theme from “Beetlejuice,” as well as a costume parade during “Funeral March of a Marionette.”

During the last song before a brief intermission, children who wore costumes to the concert were invited to march around the auditorium, led by a student dressed as Captain Hook. During the intermission, audience members conversed about what they enjoyed about the performance so far.

“I think this is one of the best parts of the college experience,” said Virginia Rendler, senior peace studies and philosophy major. “It gives us the opportunity to experience music, culture, and arts at low to no cost, available to students on a regular weeknight.” This was also a particularly unique experience, because of the Halloween theme, which made an impression on Rendler. “It’s made so much more fun by the presence of costumes, and kids and students all getting together to celebrate a family holiday,” she said. The concert came to an end with the highly anticipated “Harry Potter” Suite.

Conductor Scott Humphries, a huge “Harry Potter” fan himself, jokingly asked anyone who had not seen any of the movies to kindly exit the auditorium before they began playing. Of course, no one left; all were excited to hear the closing number. The final piece transported many students back to their childhoods with the iconic theme.

After the performance, Joanne Case, president of the Manchester Symphony Society and orchestra member, reflected on how she thought the evening went. Case described the concert as a whole as “a real crowd-pleaser.” She was impressed by the range of ages that attended, from children, to parents, to students, to older community members.

Much like Rigsbee, her favorite piece they performed was also “Phantom of the Opera.”

“It’s a great opener with a variety of moods,” she said. For the past few years, the first Symphony concert of the year has been themed. Last year the first concert was science themed, and the year before that, it looked to the Civil War. Case wanted to have this year’s first concert be Halloween-themed because she wanted to do, as she said, “something easy for all ages to enjoy.” Case has noticed a different kind of energy at these first concerts. “There are more young people coming in groups,” Case said. “It’s a social experience. I hope this means they’re more likely to come back.”