CSO: West Side Story

Film with Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
David Newman
, conductor

Friday, July 12, 2019
4:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
5:00 PM
Public Gates Open
8:00 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $90 / $35
Lawn: $25

Note: Ravinia allows popcorn, theater candy, and Pavilion drink cups into the Pavilion for all four movie nights.


Bernstein:      Score to West Side Story

About The Artist

Dudamel West Side Story Ravinia Magazine

Program Notes

  • West Side Story is being readapted for film by Steven Spielberg with a plan for it to be released in the winter of 2020. Rita Moreno is returning to the story as Valentina, a new version of the character Doc. David Newman, who worked closely with restoring the original movie’s soundtrack and score (and is conducting this evening), is overseeing the score, which will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
  • Leonard Bernstein was working on the music for his two best-loved stage works, West Side Story and Candide, around the same time—fortuitously, as it would turn out. Before each show hit the Broadway stage in the mid-1950s, their respective songs celebrating the wedded bliss of the central characters were swapped. The stark difference of ideals in “Oh, Happy We” better lent itself to the rapier wit of Candide, while “One Hand, One Heart” forecast the wrenching tragedy awaiting Tony and Maria in West Side Story.


  • The creative team of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, and Stephen Sondheim had designs of making West Side Story a cultural touchstone beyond its confrontation of the race conflict brewing in Manhattan. The musical was originally going to be the first Broadway production to use the “F-word”(among other curses), but after learning that the language would affect distribution of the cast recording, it was changed to “Krup,” as it was to be in the song “Gee, Officer Krupke.”
  • For the film version of West Side Story, further “decency” considerations forced a lyrical change in the oath between Tony and Riff, recasting “from sperm to worm” as “from birth to earth.” Ironically, fans of the film may be surprised that on stage, Maria sings about feeling “pretty, and witty, and bright” instead of the familiar “… and gay.” This is not reverse decency editing: Maria sings “I Feel Pretty” during the day in the film instead of at night as originally on stage, so the word was changed simply to fit the rhyme.
  • Since many of the principal characters in the film version of West Side Story were cast for their on-screen presence, all of them had their voices dubbed for the songs—except for George Chakiris.
  • Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the film version of West Side Story, was the third of now just over a dozen cultural figures to have earned “EGOT” honors—winning each of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar (as Anita), and Tony Awards. This year she is joining the even shorter list of “PEGOT” winners—those who have also earned a Pulitzer Prize or the Peabody Award—after being named a recipient of a Peabody Award for journalism.
  • Because Leonard Bernstein wasn’t involved in revising the original musical score of West Side Storyfor the film adaptation, he was not named among the four winners of the Oscar for Best Original Score, one of the 10 Academy Awards that the film won.
  • Ten years ago, seemingly a lifetime before the cultural explosion of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda teamed up with Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for West Side Story, to “even the playing field” by providing Spanish translations for the Puerto Rican Sharks gang’s songs in the most recent Broadway revival, spearheaded and directed by Laurents.

Park Details

Join us for a pre-concert discussion with Dean Richards, entertainment critic for WGN TV morning news and 720AM WGN radio

Concert Information

Complete film shown on Pavilion and lawn video screens


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