By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
brilliant choreography was an integral part of the 1961 movie version of “West
Side Story,” which will be screened July 8 and 9 at Hollywood Bowl with the Los
Angeles Philharmonic playing Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score.
When the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced that it would
screen the 1961 movie version of West
Side Story next weekend (July 8 and 9) at Hollywood Bowl with the LAPO
playing Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score live while the entire motion picture —
including the vocals — is projected on a giant screen above the Bowl stage, the
most obvious question was “How could they do that?”
Screening movies with live orchestras playing the sound
track has been done many times and the synchronization of those two elements is
a challenge. For example, on August 18 and 19, John Mauceri will return to the
Cahuenga Pass amphitheatre to conduct the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing the
score for the Walt Disney’s 1940 classic Fantasia
during a screening of the movie (LINK). The program also marks the 20th
anniversary of the HBO (Mauceri was the founding director).
However, stripping out the orchestral music and leaving the existing
vocals, as is being done with West Side
Story, is an entirely different animal. Barbara Isenberg reports on how
it’s being done for WSS in yesterday’s
Los Angeles Times HERE.
As Isenberg reports, the Bowl concerts mark the first time
that the entire WSS film score will
have been played live since the movie was made, although the movie music has
been released several times in recorded form and there are a couple of
symphonic suites of the music. Several recordings of the stage version have also
been made. Moreover, in 1984, Bernstein himself recorded the original score in
an operatic-style recording that included Kiri Te Kanawa as Maria and and Jos
Carreras as Tony. However, the movie contains
somewhat a somewhat different arrangement of Bernstein’s music than the stage
With a script by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen
Sondheim, choreography by Jerome Robbins and, most importantly, Bernstein’s
score, West Side Story became one of
the 20th century’s landmark musicals when it opened on Broadway in
1957. As most everyone knows, the musical is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the setting
placed in New York City during the 1950s. The movie won 10 Academy Awards (the
most by any musical), including Best
Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Chakaris), Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno) and Best Director (Robbins and Robert Wise).
The film and live performance package is already booked at Lincoln
Center‘s Avery Fisher Hall for Sept. 7 and 8 with composer David Newman
(who is leading the Bowl performances) conducting the New York Philharmonic. Newman
will also conduct the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra at its Symphony Center from Nov. 25 to 27. The
project’s European premiere will be at Royal Albert Hall
in London with the Royal
Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in June 2012.
For information on the Bowl West Side Story concerts, click HERE.
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.