Christmas Magic: Home Alone Live Orchestra Screening at M&S Bank Arena Liverpool


Friday 15th December 2023

For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t quite be Christmas without seeing Home Alone at least once. For those of you who haven’t, Ill keep spoilers to a minimum. 

Wikipedia says “the film stars Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard and Catherine O’Hara. Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, a boy who defends his suburban Chicago home from a home invasion by a pair of robbers after his family accidentally leaves him behind on their Christmas vacation to Paris.”

With action reminiscent of the Three Stooges or Tom and Jerry (and, yes, I am showing my age), and just the right amount of jeopardy, this relatively slight-sounding set-up is turned into something like a comedy version of Rambo, if Rambo was an 8-year-old child instead of a grizzled war veteran.

Though I’ve seen the film more times than I can count, I’ve never seen it on the big screen, so that by itself was reason enough to be – if not exactly excited, then at least very keen. Add to that the expectation of the experience being further enhanced by the live score from The Heritage Orchestra, under Conductor Stefan Geiger, and this felt like an event even before we got inside.

Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena a huge auditorium, even with the upper tiers not in use, but getting in and finding our seats was quick and painless, given the efficiency and friendliness of the staff. 

We were seated just a few rows from the back, so couldn’t have been much further from the screen. No matter: the screen is huge, and very bright; so much so that you could, if you so wished, easily ignore the fact that the light needed by the musicians meant they were visible throughout, albeit faintly. That would be a shame, though, as there’s something magical about taking the occasional glance at the orchestra, as well as being able to hear them.

The acoustics and technical wizardry mean the film’s dialogue and sound effects are perfectly audible, even with the orchestra in full swing. And swing they did; this is a full-scale orchestra with added choir, all of whom were on absolutely top form.

I knew the live orchestra would add to the feeling of immersion in the film, but was still surprised by the extent to which this was true. In fact, I not only felt like I was seeing the film for the first time, but that I’d somehow been transformed back into a kid myself. 

Amongst so many highlights, the point at which the on-screen choir was joined by the choir on stage felt like the meaning of Christmas, perfectly distilled – a surprisingly moving moment given this is essentially a kids’ film.

And if that isn’t Christmas magic, then I don’t know what is.

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