The Nightmare Before Christmas Live (5 stars)

The Nightmare Before Christmas Live

Catherine O'Hara and Danny Elfman / credit: Randall Mich

Tim Burton's 1993 animated film never sounded so good, as Jack Skellington and co bring the film's soundtrack to life on stage

The woman sitting in front of me has painted her face blue, drawn stitches across her skin and looks every inch the loveable rag doll Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Such effort does not go unnoticed ("if only we could charge a fiver for selfies", quips her companion after a busy interval), but while most of us have just turned up in everyday clothes, the collective love for Tim Burton's film is palpable, echoing around an excitable Hydro.

The film's composer (and the singing voice of Jack Skellington) Danny Elfman fronted a rock band for many years, and it shows. He's clearly in his element each time he steps up to deliver one of his self-penned classics, from 'What's This?' to 'Making Christmas', and the crowd, quite rightly, adores him.

Burton's film has become something of a cult classic over the years, so the opportunity to see it on the big screen is treat enough. When you add in a full-sized orchestra (in this instance the superb Royal Scottish National Orchestra), a mini-chorus of four character singers, guest violinist Sandy Cameron and the film's original vocalists Elfman, Catherine O'Hara (Sally) and Ken Page (Oogie Boogie) it becomes something very special indeed.

At times, the film takes centre stage, showing on all three large screens as the orchestra plays the score below. But with each song, the central image is devoted to the singers, the film showing on either side. It's a lot to take in, both visually and aurally, but feels rich and exciting rather than overwhelming.

An event such as this was always going to be more than the sum of its parts, but The Nightmare Before Christmas Live exceeds even those expectations. We walk away warmed by the glow of talent and teamwork, having fallen in love (all over again) with the film and its songs.

Reviewed at Glasgow SSE Hydro

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas – Live in Concert

A screening of Tim Burton and Henry Selick's classic animated film with live accompaniment featuring Danny Elfman as Jack Skellington, Catherine O'Hara as Sally, and Ken Page as Oogie Boogie.


1. Mrs Bridie6 Dec 2019, 9:42am Report

Agreed, it was just fabulous! What about the RSNO Chorus, their input was excellent also? Bravo to all!

2. stacey russell6 Dec 2019, 2:01pm Report

I was there with my husband and two best friends. I turned up in full blown sally outfit, blue face, stitches, red wig and dress. I was asked many time to have my photo taken with families. I was disappointed to see no one else really made an effort. I have to say this was one of the most magical nights of my life. It couldn't have been any better.

3. Robin Morgan6 Dec 2019, 5:38pm Report

I was there at sse Wembley yesterday (5/12/19) was amazed how in sync orchestra and cast were. Danny elfman truly represented Jack's character and alongside the film, he was a expressions to match.

4. Amanda Metcalfe14 Dec 2019, 10:36am Report

I was there with my aunt and 6 month old daughter... She loved every minute as she loves the film just as much as I do. It was amazing to see Danny elfman at work and Ken page too!!! My daughter even got to see a man and woman dressed as Jack and Sally and had cuddles with Jack which she loved (and didn't want to come back to me!!!) hope to see this again in the future!

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