West Side Story® Associates presents

West Side Story

Radio Filharmonisch Orkest

You are looking at a performance from our archive

Maria, America, Mambo – classic songs from one of the greatest musicals of all time, West Side Story, based on the romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The same-titled film won an outstanding ten Oscars in 1961. But even more than the acting, the choreography or the direction, the film takes its iconic status from Stephen Sondheim’s unforgettable lyrics and Leonard Bernstein’s timeless music. The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra plays the music of West Side Story live, accompanying a screening of a newly restored print of the film. With special techniques the film has been re-mastered with the music removed, leaving the original vocals and dialogue intact. This means the orchestra on stage play dead in time with the performers in the movie, creating a very special live vibe.


Natalie Wood
Richard Beymer
Russ Tamblyn
Rita Moreno
George Chakiris
Robert Wise
Jerome Robbins
Ernest Lehman
associate producer
Saul Chaplin
Jerome Robbins
Leonard Bernstein
Stephen Sondheim
based upon the stage play produced by
Robert E. Griffith
Harold S. Prince
Arthur Laurents
play conceived, directed and choreographed
Jerome Robbins
design film productie
Boris Leven
live performance
Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
conducted by
Wayne Marshall

... the vividness of the playing was a reminder that Bernstein's score is a magnificent, timeless creation.

The New York Times

background information

The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic led by Wayne Marshall will play Leonard Bernstein's music from the classic musical West Side Story live, while a newly remastered copy of the film is shown on the big screen with the original vocals and dialogue intact. This version of the film has been stripped of its orchestral soundtrack using the latest techniques, so that the music can be played live. A click-track is used to ensure the orchestra will play dead in time with the vocals on screen. As in last year's production of 2001: A Space Oddyssey (then also with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic) this performance with live orchestra will bring about a very different experience for the audience than any regular screening in a cinema, if only because of the interaction between the performers and the audience. The music will also feel much more spacious and transparent than in the cinema.


West Side Story is one of the most famous musicals of all time, premiering in 1957 on Broadway. The idea for the musical was really already conceived in 1947 as East Side Story, a contemporary version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet about the conflicts between two gangs, the Irish-American Jets and the Jewish Emeralds, in the Lower East Side area of Manhattan. However, East Side Story was shelved and it took some 8 years before the idea was picked up again by the same three men that were involved with the original idea: Laurents (writer), Bernstein (music) and Robbins (direction), when they were discussing the phenomenon of rivalling gangs in the city. Laurents had previously met Stephen Sondheim, and at the instigation of Oscar Hammerstein agreed to write the lyrics. The musical premiered in 1957 on Broadway and picked up two Tony Awards and five Tony nominations. In 1961, the film version was released, based on the stage script by Arthur Laurents, with the original music, lyrics and choreography and with Natalie Wood as the Puerto Rican Maria and Richard Beymer as her lover Tony. Other cast members included Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris. Robert Wise was the director. Just as the stage musical, the film is a timeless classic. The music is still monumental, the many dance scenes are still impressive and infectious, and the story, a modern version of Romeo and Juliet against the backdrop of a feud between two street gangs in 1950's New York, is still heartbreaking.



The story is set in the Upper West Side area of New York (between 50th and 60th Street), which in the 1950's, before the construction of Lincoln Center, was still a lower class neighbourhood of Manhattan. In the area, two rivalling gangs are active, the Caucasian (Irish and Polish) Jets and the Latino (Puerto Rican) Sharks. At a dance, the leader of the Jets, Riff, challenges the Sharks and their leader Bernardo to a fight. Riff has asked his best friend Tony to come along to the dance. Tony used to lead the gang together with Riff, but he quit a short while before. At the dance he sees Maria, Bernardo's sister. Chino, a prominent member of the Sharks, has been selected by Maria's family to marry her, but after Maria has danced with Tony she falls head over heels in love with him.

Later, whilst the Jets and the Sharks meet at Doc's Drugstore, neutral terrain for the two gangs, Tony manages to find Maria's home and they profess their love for each other in the 'balcony' scene, singing the famous song 'Tonight' while standing on New York's characteristic fire escapes. When Tony returns to Doc's Drugstore, the Jets and the Sharks are still negotiating over their upcoming fight. Tony proposes they fight bare-fisted, without weapons. The next day, at the request of Maria, Tony tries to stop the fight between the two gangs. But when Bernardo starts jeering at Tony and pushes him, Riff lashes out at Bernardo and both draw their knives. When Tony tries to stop Riff, Riff pulls himself loose from him but in the action lands on Bernardo's knife and is killed. In anger, Tony picks up the knife and kills Bernardo.

The next day, Tony calls on Maria again. First, she is angry with him for having killed her brother, but she still loves him. They decide that they want to flee the city together to build a new life. Then Tony hears from Anita, Maria's friend and Bernardo's girlfriend, that Chino is looking for him and that he has a gun. After Anita has been taunted and physically attacked by a number of Jets, she falsely tells Doc that Chino has killed Maria. When Tony hears this, he goes looking for Tony to beg him to kill him as well. Just before Chino kills him, Tony sees Maria, alive and well. The Jets are furious that another member of their gang has been killed. But Maria grabs the gun from Chino and tells them that all of them have killed Tony. The Jets and the Sharks come to the insight that their rivalry has only led to heartbreak and despair. Together, they form a procession on either side of Tony and carry him away.


Wayne Marshall (1961) is an English pianist, organist and conductor. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and continued his studies in Vienna. He is known for his interpretations of the works of 20th century American composers, including George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington. With the Aalborg Symfonieorkester he has recorded Gershwin's complete works for piano and orchestra on CD, conducting as well as playing the solo parts himself. His CD Gershwin Songbook won the Echo award in Germany. Since 2007 Marshall has been a permanent guest conductor at the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi. He has also been at the helm of the major British orchestras and international ensembles including the Gewandhausorchester, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre National d’Île de France, the Brabants Orkest, the Moscow Chamber Choir, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted operas in Washington and Dallas and at the Opéra Comique in Paris. As an organist, Marshall has performed worldwide at famous venues, including Gewandhaus Leipzig, Florence Cathedral, the Notre-Dame in Paris, the Royal Albert Hall, the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart, the new opera of Beijing and, in May 2013, the Konzerthaus in Vienna. In 2004, Marshall played the opening recital at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In the same year he premiered James McMillan's organ concert A Scotch Bestiary with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra led by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Since the opening in 1996 he has been the permanent organist at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Marshall frequently performs as organist, pianist and conductor at the BBC Proms. In 2004 he received an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University and in 2010 he became Fellow of the Royal College of Music. Marshall has been appointed artistic leader of Valletta European Capital of Culture 2018.


The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (RFO) was founded in 1945 by Albert van Raalte. Over the years, the orchestra has been led by Bernard Haitink, Jean Fournet, Willem van Otterloo, Hans Vonk, Edo de Waart and Jaap van Zweden. Van Zweeden has been succeeded in the 2012-2013 season by Markus Stenz. The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (RFO) works with numerous renowned guest conductors, including Stokowski, Kondrashin, Dorati, Muti, Masur, Jansons and Gergiev. James Gaffigan is the regular guest conductor until mid-2015. The orchestra has performed the (Dutch) premieres of works by Adès, Berio, Boulez, Adams, Franssens, Koolmees, Padding, Francesconi, Janácek, De Raaff, Ustvolskaya and Rijnvos, among others. The RFO also occasionally performs abroad, for example during the Festival Musica in Strasbourg in 2008, the Sun Festival in Singapore in 2009, and in 2010 on concert tours to Great Britain, Germany and Austria. In 2011, the RFO made a successful debut at the BBC Proms under Jaap van Zweden’s direction.

The RFO works for the Netherlands Public Broadcasting Authority and is a major presence in the ZaterdagMatinee and Sunday morning concert series in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, as well as in the Friday series ‘De Vrijdag van Vredenburg’ in Utrecht; these concerts are broadcast live on Radio 4. The RFO has built up an impressive discography, including, amongst much more, the complete symphonies of Mahler conducted by Edo de Waart, a unique CD box of Wagner’s works, a Bruckner cycle conducted by Jaap van Zweden and the complete orchestral works of Rachmaninov. The orchestra also regularly draws attention with its CDs of contemporary music, receiving praise for its interpretations of works by Jonathan Harvey, Klas Torstensson, Jan van Vlijmen and others.

Clifford Chance