June 15, 2007- Warner Brothers previewed its fall musical August Rush with a live performance of songs and score from the film. Leading up to the performance, they screened footage to put the music into context.
Freddie Highmore plays August Rush, an orphan who believes his parents are coming for him. He has a sense for music, and when we get to know his parents, we see why. Keri Russell plays Lyla, a concert cellist who spends a romantic night with rocker Louis, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. But Lyla's father does not approve and makes her give baby August up for adoption.
Throughout the film, music brings the three characters together. On the streets of New York, August hears music in street sounds, creating a sort of Stomp-like symphony. He follows the music to an underground theater world where Wizard (Robin Williams) takes in children. There he learns guitar, by way of pounding on the strings.
Lyla is invited back to the Philharmonic, and on his deathbed, her dad finally tells her about her long lost son. She pursues social worker Richard Jeffries (Terrance Howard) for help finding August. Louis grows up to be a businessman having given up on music, but he ends up playing one day with August, not even knowing they are father and son.
Meanwhile, August discovers a gospel choir (the real life Impact group in Harlem). There he learns to play piano and organ to the beat of basketballs outside. All of this brings the trio closer and closer together.
For some background, note that Lyla's instrument in the script was a violin, but they decided cello was more cinematic. Russell learned to play in 12 weeks. Composer Mark Mancina came up with a three-note theme that you’ll hear throughout the score. Phil Ramone made sure that Myers could sing for his part, because he wanted a real rock n' roll voice, not some lip syncer.
Finally, it was time to hear the score live. Mancina sat at the piano, joined by cellist Jen Kuhn. The score opened with his piano theme, as Kuhn waited patiently, feeling the music. She began sharply, seeming to change the tone and the key to minor. Finally, the instrumental went back to the more melodic, fuller, romantic sound with both instruments.
For the second piece, Five for Fighting singer John Ondrasik took the piano while Macina took the guitar. A piano ballad with falsetto rocker’s voice joining the cello and guitar picks, this piece was chosen over the more rocked out pieces to suit the more intimate event.