Rewind: June 8, 2007

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of its original Broadway staging, Leonard Bernstein’s omni-theatrical masterpiece West Side Story came to life at Ravinia in a version devised especially for the occasion by the North Carolina School of the Arts. The school’s chancellor, John Maucieri, was an assistant to Bernstein for 18 years and to choreographer Jerome Robbins on the original production, and he was on hand as musical director and conductor for the June 8, 2007 performance at the festival. Like Ravinia’s presentations of other Broadway masterpieces over the past decade and a half—including Annie Get Your Gun in 2010 and a multiyear Sondheim celebration ranging from Sweeney Todd in 2001 to Gypsy in 2006 (which featured Patti LuPone taking on the title role that would later earn her a Tony)—the performance featured full costumes and set pieces ingeniously positioned around the onstage orchestra. Even Broadway’s original Maria, Illinois native Carol Lawrence, was in attendance for a pre-concert talk. Bernstein’s musical legacy will receive even broader recognition in 2018 and 2019 as Ravinia celebrates the great American composer, conductor, and pianist’s centennial with programs specially curated by conductor Marin Alsop, one of Bernstein’s final protégés. West Side Story, in its inimitable, 10-time Oscar-winning film version, will of course be part of the festivities.