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Movie Classic West Side Story To Screen With Live Music By The NZSO

The beloved 1961 film West Side Story returns to the big screen in 2023 as a movie experience like no other, featuring live music from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

This iconic film has won 10 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Bernstein’s electrifying score is performed live, featuring memorable songs with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, while the newly re-mastered film is shown in glorious high definition on the big screen with the original vocals and dialogue intact.

This classic romantic tragedy, one of the greatest achievements in the history of movie musicals, features breath-taking choreography by Jerome Robbins, a masterful script by Arthur Laurents and screenplay by Ernest Lehman.

MGM presents West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra on Saturday, 18 February sees the NZSO led by renowned Singaporean conductor Joshua Tan for two performances. Maestro Tan previously conducted West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra to acclaim with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

From the hit songs Maria, America, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere, to the breathless and iconic choreography, West Side Story is one of the greatest film adaptations of any Broadway musical in history. Directed by Robert Wise, it has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress.

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The film and musical continue to resonate, with Steven Spielberg’s version released in 2021 and Bradley Cooper to direct and star in Maestro, a film about Leonard Bernstein, to be released next year.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, street gangs The Jets and The Sharks battle for control of New York’s Upper West Side, only for the Jets’ Tony (Richard Beymer) to fall in love with Maria (Natalie Wood), sister of the Sharks’ leader Bernardo (George Chakiris).

West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra has the blessing of Bernstein’s family. “For devotees of the movie, it's a revelation to hear the Bernstein score in such a dynamic, visceral way,” says his daughter Jamie.

“And for those who experience the film for the first time, there could be no better way to see, hear and fall in love with it. As a result, West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra is an ideal excursion for families. What better way to get your kids into those finger snaps? And what better way to experience that amazing music? And equally important: what better way to have a conversation with your kids about the forces of hatred and intolerance which still affect our societies today?”

Tickets to West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra go on sale to NZSO Members and via Live In WLG presale from 2pm Wednesday, 23 Nov and the public via from 2pm Friday, 25 Nov.


Photos attached: (1) The electrifying choreography combined with Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics made West Side Story a hit. (2) Anita (Rita Moreno), centre, won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for West Side Story. (3) The Jets’ Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with Maria (Natalie Wood) from rival gang The Sharks in West Side Story. Credit: Courtesy of United Artists. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

MGM presents West Side Story Film with Live Orchestra

JOSHUA TAN Conductor

TE WHANGANUI-A-TARA WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre |Saturday 18 February 2023 | 2.00pm & 7.30pm


Composer Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a world-renowned musician, composer and conductor throughout his entire adult life. He was Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and conducted the world's major orchestras recording hundreds of these performances. His books and the televised Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic established him as a leading educator. His compositions include Jeremiah, The Age of Anxiety, Kaddish, Serenade, Five Anniversaries, Mass, Chichester Psalms, Slava!, Songfest, Divertimento for Orchestra, Missa Brevis, Arias and Barcarolles, Concerto for Orchestra and A Quiet Place. Bernstein composed for the Broadway musical stage, including On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and the immensely popular West Side Story. In addition to the West Side Story collaboration, Bernstein worked with choreographer Jerome Robbins on three major ballets, Fancy Free, Facsimile and Dybbk. Bernstein was the recipient of many honours, including, the Antoinette Perry Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Theater, 11 Emmy Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Kennedy Center Honors. In 1974 Bernstein toured New Zealand conducting the New York Philharmonic.

Lyricist Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night (1954), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday In The Park With George (1984), Into The Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994), and Road Show (2008), as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965), and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Side By Side By Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You're Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), Putting It Together (1993/99), and Sondheim On Sondheim (2010) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist. For films, he composed the scores of Stavisky (1974), co-composed the score for Reds (1981), and wrote songs for Dick Tracy (1990). He wrote songs for the television production Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored the film The Last of Sheila (1973) and the play Getting Away With Murder (1996) and provided incidental music for the plays The Girls Of Summer (1956), Invitation To A March (1961), Twigs (1971), and The Enclave (1973). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: Finishing the Hat (2010) and Look, I Made a Hat (2011). In 2010 the Broadway theatre formerly known as Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in his honour.

Book Arthur Laurents

Arthur Laurents (1917-2011) is the author of musical plays such as West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle, Do I Hear A Waltz?, Hallelujah Baby! (1967 Tony Award for Best Musical) and Nick & Nora; and the screenplays The Snake Pit, Rope, Caught, Anastasia, Bonjour Tristesse, The Way We Were, and The Turning Point (Golden Globe Award, Screenwriters Guild Award, Writers Guild of America Award, National Board of Review Best Picture Award). The last two screenplays were novels as well. His plays include Claudia Lazlo, Home Of The Brave, The Time Of The Cuckoo, A Clearing In The Woods, Invitation To The March, The Enclave, Scream, Two Lives, The Radical Mystique, My Good Name, and Jolson Sings Again.

He has also directed plays and musicals for the theatre, among them I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Invitation To A March, Anyone Can Whistle, The Enclave, The Madwoman Of Central Park West, Birds Of Paradise, three revivals of Gypsy (with Angela Lansbury in 1974, with Tyne Daly in 1989, with Patti LuPone in 2007) and La Cage Aux Folles (1984 Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical, 1985 Sydney Drama Critics Award for Directing).

He has also written radio episodes for Hollywood Playhouse, Assignment Home (Variety Radio Award, 1945), The Thin Man, Army Service Force Presents, The Man Behind the Gun, and This is Your FBI.

He was honoured by awards from many organisations, among them the National Institute of Arts and Letters, Writers Guild of America, Antoinette Perry (Tonys), Golden Globe, Drama Desk, National Board of Review and the Sydney Drama Critics. He was a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, P.E.N., the Screenwriter's Guild, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and is an emeritus member of the Council of the Dramatist Guild.

Director Robert Wise

Best known as the director of the musical smash hits West Side Story and The Sound of Music, in the 1960s, director Robert Wise (1914–2005) had a long list of credits that included several other important films as well. Early in his career, he also served as editor on the landmark film Citizen Kane.

Wise's contributions have sometimes been overlooked by film students and historians, for he did not have one of the distinctive directorial styles that inspire passion in cinema devotees. Instead, he made films in many genres, from war dramas to horror and science fiction genre pieces, from three-handkerchief weepers to serious social tales. And, having avoided musicals for most of his career, he made two of the most famous musicals of all as his career hit its peak. If Wise was underrated by students of film, his craft was recognised by his fellow directors and industry figures, who honoured him richly toward the end of his long life.

Co-director and choreographer Jerome Robbins

Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) is world renowned for his work as a choreographer of ballets as well as his work as a director and choreographer in theatre, movies and television. His Broadway shows include On the Town, Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, West Side Story, The King and I, Gypsy, Peter Pan, Miss Liberty, Call Me Madam, and Fiddler on the Roof. His last Broadway production in 1989, Jerome Robbins = Broadway, won six Tony Awards including best musical and best director.

Among the more than 60 ballets he created are Fancy Free, Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, In the Night, In G Major, Other Dances, Glass Pieces and Ives, Songs, which are in the repertories of New York City Ballet and other major dance companies throughout the world. His last ballets include A Suite of Dances created for Mikhail Baryshnikov (1994), 2 & 3 Part Inventions (1994), West Side Story Suite (1995) and Brandenburg (1996).

In addition to two Academy Awards for the film West Side Story, Robbins received four Tony Awards, five Donaldson Awards, an Emmy Award, the Screen Directors' Guild Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Robbins was a 1981 Kennedy Center Honors Recipient and was awarded the French Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur.

Screenwriter Ernest Lehman

Ernest Lehman, American screenwriter and film producer (1915-2005), one of the most critically and commercially successful screenwriters in Hollywood history, grew up on Long Island and graduated from New York’s City College. One of his first jobs was as a copywriter for a Broadway publicist. This experience would later be reflected in his novel and screenplay, Sweet Smell of Success. He wrote screenplays for some of the most enduring Hollywood films of the 1950s and ’60s. Lehman enjoyed early success as a short-story and novella writer before turning to writing for the screen. He proved adept at an original screenplay, his Academy Award-nominated North by Northwest (1959), and adapted screenplays, notably his Oscar-nominated work for Sabrina (1954), West Side Story (1961), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Other screenplays included Executive Suite (1954), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and The Sound of Music (1965). In 2001 Lehman became the first screenwriter to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Conductor Joshua Tan

Joshua Tan is presently Associate Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra.

Second Prize winner of the 2008 Dimitri Mitropoulos International Competition, Singaporean conductor Joshua Tan’s rise to prominence on the international scene has been marked by recent successful debuts in Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie Berlin, Mariinsky Hall, Bunkamura, Shanghai, Beijing and Taiwan. Joshua was featured as the top Singaporean musical talent to watch for in 2009 by the Singapore newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao. He has won numerous awards and scholarships, including the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Award, NAC-Shell Scholarship, SSO/MOE Scholarship and is the first ever recipient of the Charles Schiff Conducting Prize from the Juilliard School for outstanding achievement. In 2011, he received the Young Artist Award of Singapore.

Joshua has come to the attention of the leading conductors of today and has studied with James DePreist, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman and Kurt Masur. Other conductors he has worked with include Michael Tilson Thomas, Ingo Metzmacher and George Manahan.

Orchestras he has conducted include the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, Beethoven Bonn Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra, Urals Philharmonic Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Okayama Symphony Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Yokohama Sinfonietta, Russiche Kammerphilharmonie, Macau Symphony Orchestra, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Obihiro Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, Toho Orchestra, AACA Orchestra, Kaoshiung City Symphony Orchestra, Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg State Symphony amongst others.

Equally at home with both symphoni c and operatic repertoire, he has conducted La Traviata, L’elisir d’amore, Tosca, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, Der Fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Un Ballo in Maschera, Carmen, Don Giovanni, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Cosi fan Tutte, and Turandot amongst others. He was also cover conductor for Christoph Eschenbach and Lorin Maazel. Also adept at working with film/multimedia and music, Joshua is a Disney-approved conductor and gave the Asian premiere of Fantasia. He has also conducted for the BBC’s Planet Earth Series, Disney’s Pixar and Dreams Come True. Ballet productions include the premiere of Marco Polo, Swan Lake and Giselle.

He had a successful stint as Resident Conductor of the National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra from 2009 to 2012 with numerous televised concerts and was Principal Conductor of the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra from 2013–2017. Highlights of the 2017/18 season included Giselle in Tokyo, Sleeping Beauty, L’elisir d’amore , Bernstein’s Mass and a performance of the complete West Side Story with film for the centenary in Singapore amongst others. Overseeing a special initiative, Joshua is also Director for the Asia Virtuosi since 2017, an annual festival orchestra which comprises of leading professional orchestral musicians from different orchestras in Asia. Joshua is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music (High Distinction).

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