Mechanical Danny

Mechanical Danny is an original story by Dennis Lee, created to be accompanied by orchestra. It stars a mechanical boy, Danny, who volunteers to rescue the city’s children when they are kidnapped on the eve of a great Millennium celebration.

The children’s audience is a tough audience. They love to be challenged, and hate being patronized; yet they also demand clarity and a certain kind of logic, however rubbery. The composer must tiptoe into the narrative world of the story and apply just the right musical strokes, without suffocating or muddying the story. Dennis and I worked together to make the story very concise, and I have tried to do the same with the music. The music visits the worlds of Prokofieff’s Peter and the Wolf and Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat— as well as Haydn, Wagner, Bugs Bunny, and many others. These idioms are used to project the story and its characters, and to introduce children to the many faces of “classical” music.

Mechanical Danny was commissioned by The Toronto Symphony Orchestra through the Millennium Fund of The Canada Council for the Arts.


Mechanical Danny is a toy boy who longs to become a real boy. When The Great Gorgle kidnaps all the city’s children on the eve of the great Millennium celebration, Danny volunteers to rescue them, with the help of the brave dog Iris. Risking their lives, Danny and Iris find the children, outwit the Gorgle, and escape back to the city in time for the Millennium celebration. Danny is rewarded by being turned into a real boy.