Dear reader, here we are on the morning of “wandelprobe” for West Side Story, the actors’ first day with the orchestra before final dress rehearsal tonight and first preview at tomorrow’s matinee. I sat in yesterday for a couple of hours during the musicians’ day long rehearsal. Paramount’s nineteen-piece orchestra working through the elaborate, intricate passages of percussive dissonance and then alternately launching into the strains of Leonard Bernstein’s majestic anthems spins in my head. Hearing it live and up close, it reaches with force into my memory of the days long ago spinning the LP on the stereo. Eyes close, it tugs at the psyche. How Bernstein reaches the stars gorgeously only to suddenly carry the heavy weight of our humanity, our shared tragedy in his telling of this story, astonishes. It seems there has never been any score more alive, raucous, beautiful, young and dangerous.
It is Bernstein’s story, his telling of this tale of star-crossed lovers. It is his music that has given this work its endurance for almost 60 years. It is our story now as well. We live with the violence and hate almost daily. Tony and Maria’s love never had a chance. And yet their love is our only hope. Love is our only hope, ladies and gentlemen. The optimism to be found in this work is in the musical magnificence and poignancy of that.
Saturday, March 19th, is West Side Story’s official press opening night. Paramount’s production runs until April 24. See you there.
Love and thanks,