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'Back to the Future' flies back, with an orchestra

"Doc" Brown and his DeLorean time machine are about to get a tuneup.

"Back to the Future," the time-traveling adventure that turned 30 this year, is being celebrated in grand style at Radio City Music Hall on Oct. 15 and 16 with a screening of the film accompanied by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performing the score live.

"It's a hybrid concert," says film composer David Newman, who'll be conducting the orchestra. "You as an audience member can choose to watch the film or watch the orchestra or a little bit of both."

Newman, who's conducted live concert screenings of "West Side Story," "E.T.," "On the Waterfront" and other films, says he and the orchestra had two rehearsals, each lasting 2 1/2 hours, to work with the movie. "I am responsible for synchronizing the music to the movie, and 'Back to the Future' is heavily synchronized," he says. "You have to get those music hits on those intercuts -- when they cut to the car or cut to the clock tower or somebody is hitting someone in the face with a fist."

For the first three reels of the movie, which were largely dialogue-driven, Newman consulted with Alan Silverstri, who composed the score, and director Robert Zemeckis about adding 20 minutes of music. Silvestri borrowed from the scores of the "Back to the Future" sequels. "We're purists and we wanted to present the movie in its original context. Luckily we had the original creators that we could turn to," Newman says.

"Doc" Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd, and fellow cast member James Tolkan, who played school disciplinarian Mr. Strickland, will introduce the movie. They'll join Silvestri and screenwriter Bob Gale, who will also be on hand to talk about the movie afterward. For Newman, though, the music is just as critical a character as Marty McFly and "Doc."

"The score has got so much energy and buzz," says Newman, who conducted live concerts of the movie in Lucerne, Switzerland, in May and at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl in July. "It's fun for us to do, it's just really fast and difficult ... The music in the second and third acts is like panting as the characters try to get to the right place at the right time. Once the storm hits, the music keeps building and building, but in a subtle way. Once you get to that clock tower scene, it's just nonstop to the end. To me that movie is almost perfect with a basically perfect score."


'Back to the Future' in concert


WHEN | WHERE Thursday, Oct. 15, and Friday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m., Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., Manhattan

INFO $53.88-$123.88; 800-745-3000,

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