Yes, a belated "Happy Birthday!" to the landmark musical by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. At this very moment, I happen to be sitting directly across the street from the Winter Garden Theatre, where West Side Story opened on September 26, 1957. (Another famous Winter Garden tenant: Cats. Current tenant: Mamma Mia!) Matter of fact, whereas the S&V offices are at 1633 Broadway, the theater is at 1634.
Despite that, I haven't gotten around to recognizing this Golden Anniversary until now. But gee, Officer Krupke: Better late than never! And to help celebrate, I offer this roundup, including a new recording, fresh reissues, and other currently available titles.
West Side Story (Decca Broadway; shown above, far left): This is indeed a new recording, featuring classical-crossover stars Hayley Westenra (as Maria) and Vittorio Grigolo (as Tony), with Connie Fisher singing "Somewhere." Nick Ingman conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Liner notes are by Bernstein's daughter Jamie.
A Place for Us: A Tribute to 50 Years of West Side Story (Sony Classical): Sony says: "In the last half-century, the greatest singers and instrumentalists in pop and classical music have been reinventing these unforgettable tunes. This new collection brings together the very best of them." Included: Julie Andrews's "I Feel Pretty," the Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Somewhere," the Canadian Brass's "America," Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis's "One Hand, One Heart," and Brian Stokes Mitchell's "Something's Coming." Also here is AndrÃ© Previn's previously unreleased version of "Gee, Officer Krupke." And the CD wraps up with two newly recorded tracks: Kristin Chenoweth and Hugh Panaro's "Tonight" and Eldar's "Cool."
West Side Story: Special Edition (Deutsche Grammophon): This 1984 recording conducted by Bernstein himself â with opera stars Kiri Te Kanawa and JosÃ© Carreras â is now upgraded in a CD+DVD Special Edition. The DVD is a documentary on the making of the recording. A 100-page hardcover book includes articles, photos, manuscript pages, and a reminiscence by Bernstein's other daughter, Nina.
West Side Story on SACD (Deutsche Grammophon): A surround SACD of the 1984 Bernstein recording was released on a surround SACD in 2003. Today, it's likely impossible to find in stores. Try these Web sites: acousticsounds.com, musicdirect.com, elusivedisc.com. Ditto for . . .
West Side Story Suite on SACD (Sony Classical). This is the world-premiere recording of William David Brohn's arrangement for violin and orchestra, with soloist Joshua Bell backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra under David Zinman. Also here are selections from Bernstein's On the Town and Candide.
West Side Story:
The Original Broadway Cast Recording (Columbia Broadway Masterworks). It's billed as a "50th Anniversary Repackaging," but I have no info on how this differs from the reissue of a few years ago. The original Maria, Tony, and Anita: Carol Lawrence, Larry Kert, and Chita Rivera.
West Side Story: The Original Soundtrack Recording (Columbia Broadway Masterworks). Remastered in 2004. From, of course, the 1961 film directed by Robert Wise and starring Natalie Wood (whose singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon), Richard Beymer (dubbed by Jimmy Bryant), and Rita Moreno (sung by Moreno, Nixon, and Betty Wand!).
Fun fact: Beymer and co-star Russ Tamblyn (Riff) were reunited 30 years later as Benjamin Horne and Dr. Lawrence Jacoby in . . . Twin Peaks. How's that for cool, boy? âKen Richardson
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