Playing musical chairs with Matt Dunkley (Interview)

If you have watched Hollywood movies in the past 20 years, you will have definitely heard the works of Matt Dunkley. Matt who is the Musical Director for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, has worked on music for over 100 films, more recent ones include Black Swan, The Dark Knight, Inception and the musical film Moulin Rouge.

Matt Dunkley musical director for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story
Matt Dunkley the Musical Director for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

For Peter Pan, which showing at Resorts World Sentosa until20 January, Matt as the Musical Director was the brains behind rearranging pop songs and adding opera to the show.

We picked his brains during his visit to Singapore for the gala premiere of Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story.

RWScoop: How is it different working on music for movies and being the Musical Director for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story?

The biggest difference is that you have more creative input in a theatrical performance than in a movie. A film score is prescribed very much by the director and producers so it’s very much their vision.

For Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, I was involved at the very beginning from the concept, the auditions, and the production meetings. I chose the songs that are in the show and I wrote the original music that accompanies the show.

To sum it up, I have much more creative input with this show than I’m allowed in a movie because of that, it’s very satisfying.

Could you lead us through the process of choosing the songs for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story?

We sat down with the whole scenarios mapped out and noted where we need the music. The idea was like Moulin Rouge that the music and the songs help the action.

For instance, we chose Forever Young (for Peter Pan and Wendy–a song by Alphaville–because the lyrics works so well.

Peter sings, “Forever young, I want to be forever young.”
And Wendy sings, “Do you really want to live forever?”

Since Peter never grows up, the lyrics worked very nicely.

Photo credit: Leslie Artamonow

Were there any songs that you had to leave out?

We’re very happy with the selections of songs we have.

There were some songs that we wanted to have initially but they couldn’t make it into the show. To put songs in a theatrical production, you have to get clearance from the composers and so on.

We started out with a long list of song. There were songs like those from ABBA that we couldn’t have because of Mamma Mia (The Musical) or like songs from Queen because of the musical We Will Rock You.

Still, we’re happy with the ones we found.

In the show, do you have a favourite song that you think fits the scene very well?

I think it’s the moment when Tinker Bell comes back to life. The song “You Raise Me Up” fits so perfectly.

It’s a really lovely moment because we see her sacrificing herself for Peter. Peter gets the audience to say, “I believe in fairies.” Then it gets quiet and she comes up from the trap and sings the song. I think it’s a really beautiful moment.

Tinker Bell sprinkles pixie dust in Peter Pan. (Photo credit: Leslie Artamonow)
Photo credit: Leslie Artamonow

Last question, Captain Hook sings Italian opera in the show. How did that happen?

It was my fault. (Laughs.) We were thinking of different songs that Hook could sing. It never felt quite right with Hook singing pop songs.

Since Captain Hook is so in love with himself, I suggested that we have him singing opera. And we decided that it’s ok for him to sing Italian opera. I think it makes it funny because you have this pompous character who sees himself as a great opera maestro.

You'll get to see Captain Hook and Smee more closely. (Photo credit: Leslie Artamonow)
Photo credit: Leslie Artamonow

Watch the Imagine TV Network’s interview with Matt Dunkley:

Interview with Matt Dunkley (Musical Director)

Hear Matt Dunkley’s work in Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story at Resorts World Sentosa.

Get your tickets to Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

Date: 27 November 2014 – 20 January 2015
Show Times: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 8pm
Sat & Sun: 3pm & 8pm
Prices (exclude ticketing fee): Premium: $168
Standard: $138, $108, $78, $58 (Restricted View)

Get your Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story tickets online or at SISTIC or Resorts World Theatre.

Check out the latest ticket promotions before you book!

Here are related blog posts for Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

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