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December 6, 2015

Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions at Dr. Phillips Center

Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions took Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts by storm on December 4th. Conducted by Susie Benchasil Seiter and performed by The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions was a powerful journey through nearly 20 years of one of the most successful gaming franchises in history.  


It's hard to not enjoy any event at Dr. Phillips Center. As far as venues go, this is absolutely the most impressive in Orlando.  
But... when you couple such an enchanting venue with the magic of Pokémon, it presents a whole new level of appeal.  
We were lucky enough to have seats in the front row, right alongside this lovely couple. Meeting them was the moment that flipped my giddy switch and put me fully in the Poké-spirit. I have such a special love for the Pokémon franchise. Its emergence coincides with the start of my family. My daughter is as old as Pikachu, and both of my kids have spent their entire lives submerged in everything Pokémon. Sharing this event with my son was something I was very much looking forward to.
While we're on the subject of nostalgia, the entire audience enjoyed the generation-spanning pre-show rivalry round of "who's that Pokémon?".  
On with the show! There was a lot of history to cover, and nothing was left out. Beginning with Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow, the performance delivered a chronologically evolving soundtrack through all six generations of the series. 
 The performance was exceptionally stimulating to the senses. Visually, everything commanded my attention. The screen display featured scenes from representative games, allowing the stories to unfold with musical guidance. As battles ensued in the "game", color bursts and backdrop scenes added a dimensional layer to the dramatic tone of the moment. Tumbles of boulders during earthquake attacks; walls of waves crashing during water attacks - the battles waged with all the reality a Pokémon fan could hope for!
I am always fascinated by The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. They perform with such vibrantly visible heart and pride. Their delivery is in perfect synchronicity, visually as much as audibly and they're mesmerizing to watch. It was obvious that a few of the performers were Pokémon fans themselves, and their amusement added something to the performance as well.  
I cannot say enough about Susie Benchasil Seiter. The way she conducted the performance was beyond fantastic. She has the energy of a Pikachu and she absolutely electrified the audience. In the simplest terms, she was just FUN, and a genuine pleasure to observe. 
 The evening's soundtrack soared through the heights of victory and dipped into the depths of despair, true to the emotional shifts in the lives of Pokémon and their masters. The finale kicked it up a notch, with a laser-enhanced screen show and the slightest hint of techno-symphony sound. 
We caught the Zelda Symphony in July, and while I enjoyed that show greatly, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions topped it. Both shows have the common theme of helping to lure children, tweens and teens into the performing arts through a medium they already enjoy and relate to - video games. My son is not an unintelligent slob, but he is not the type I would consider overly cultured, or appreciative of the arts. The creation of these gaming-inspired symphony performances provide him with a logical reason to experience something new. In our experience, it has sparked an interest that has grown, and as a mother, I appreciate that.