Rat pack retro

Dayton Philharmonic’s Music of Mad Men

By Lauren Adams

Photo: Conductor Steven Reineke and the DPO present the Music of the Mad Men Era Feb. 19-20 at the Schuster Center

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present the Music of Mad Men Era with guest conductor Steven Reineke at the Schuster Center on Feb. 19 and 20. The show is based on music from the era of the period drama Mad Men, and the show features vocals from Janet Dacal and Ryan Silverman. The concert showcases music from the ’60s and ’70s and encourages the audience travel back in time.

For Reineke, the show holds special meaning. Reineke is originally from Tipp City, and as a young man, he played in the Dayton Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Since attending Miami University in Ohio and becoming the conductor of The New York Pops, this will be his first show at the Schuster Center.

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, and it follows advertising executives from the fictional Sterling Cooper Advertisement Agency in New York. The show quickly became a success and achieved a cult following for everything from its outfits to writing to artwork to music. The show centers on protagonist Don Draper and his colleagues and lovers throughout the decade. The backdrop of their fictional lives is juxtaposed against the tectonic cultural shift that redefined the country. The characters’ lives are in constant flux, yet you’d never know it based on their impeccable wardrobes, perfectly coiffed hair and calculated self-control.

The music helped set the tone and the mood for each episode, and it helped shape the episodes as much as the historical events featured throughout the seasons. In the article, “‘Mad Men’: Matthew Weiner’s Music, Method, and Madness” Inquisitr writer Stacey Cole writes, “Consider the pilot episode of Mad Men. As Bustle noted, even before we catch a glimpse of Don Draper’s head, we hear Don Cherry’s ‘Band of Gold’—a song about purpose, possession and happiness. Almost instantly, we are immersed into the world that the characters of the original Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency inhabit, while at the same time, subconsciously directed to their future. As alluring as the booze-guzzling world of Madison Avenue may appear to be, we are gripped by a vague feeling that it will all come crashing down.”

In “A (Nearly) Comprehensive Guide To The Music Of ‘Mad Men,’” NPR music writer Chris Molanphy writes, “The music that Weiner has employed over seven seasons of his acclaimed AMC advertising-industry melodrama … has been every bit as integral to the show’s thesis about 1960s America as its actors, costumes and production design … the music of Mad Men has felt smart, iconoclastic and (mostly) right on.”

Part of the series’ allure is that characters are mostly always talking, but we know there is so much simmering beneath the surface. The music is the perfect mode of communication to illuminate these silent conversations and supplement the main drama and character dilemmas. In particular, many of the musical moments serve to compliment the elusive Don Draper and attempt to provide an answer to all the questions he’s asking in his head, and those that the other characters are asking about him. The music helps advertise or ‘sell’ the emotion the writers want to convey. There are plenty episodes that end with the characters staring off into space with the soundtrack illuminating their tormented psyches.

On the contrary, while the background music foreshadows the characters’ fates, the music also elucidates the cavalier attitude and freedom that oozes from Sterling Cooper’s offices. Reineke says he wants to make sure the audience has a good time, and that the performers fully evoke the era’s good vibes.

“The show is going to pay tribute to the great era of the ’60s and ’70s—a time that was much freer, that was fun, that was prosperous for many people—and the great joy that comes from the music of that era,” Reineke says. “[Songs like] “Besame Mucho” [and] “Fly Me to the Moon, [performers like] Burt Bacharach … There’s only one selection out of the concert that references the TV show: there’s a big suite of music that the original composer, David Carbonara, wrote for the TV series, and it’s loads of fun … More paying tribute to the Mad Men era, the music is so great—it’s everything I love about it. [The characters on the show are] walking around the office with cigarettes in one hand and martini glasses in the other. There was such great music from that era; it was a little loungy, a little kitschy, but never cheesy.”

Remaining fresh and relevant is also a key to the show. Although the references, clothes, hairstyles and décor are more than 50 years old, Weiner and Carbonara manage to make the show and its soundtrack feel fresh and timeless. Reineke, Dacal and Silverman will put their spin on the tunes and hope the audience joins in on the fun.

“If any readers get my message,” Reineke says, “that is: feel free to dress up in your favorite Mad Men attire clothing, something retro from the era. It’s loads of fun when we look out in the audience, and we see people decked out in their great Mad Men skinny ties.”

Ladies, don your best Joan Holloway-inspired dress, and gentlemen, your best Pete Campbell-inspired skinny ties, and step in the ’60s for a night of fun.

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra presents the Music of the Mad Men Era at 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday, Feb. 19-20 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. in Dayton. Tickets are $27-$78. For tickets and more information, please visit daytonperformingarts.org or my.ticketcenterstage.com.



Reach DCP freelance writer Lauren Adams at LaurenAdams@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Lauren Adams at LaurenAdams@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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