Maui Arts & Entertainment

Maui Chamber Orchestra Celebrates “West Side Story’s” 60th Anniversary

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The Maui Chamber Orchestra will present a concert version of one of the most iconic musicals of all time, Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” on May 20-21, at the historic ʻĪao Theater in Wailuku on the occasion of the show’s 60th anniversary.

“West Side Story,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on May 20, and at 3 p.m. on May 21, at the ʻĪao Theater in Wailuku. Photo Courtesy

Maestro Robert E. Wills, founder, music director and conductor of the MCO introduced a new concert series, “There are a whole host of musicals that are not performed for various production reasons; the costume costs are too high for “My Fair Lady,” the orchestra cost is too high for another show, or we don’t have enough dancers for this show or for that show, etc. but we can still do them in concert,” he said.

“May 20, will be our premiere performance in our ʻMusicals in Concert’ series. I looked and looked for a musical that would be good enough to really make a big impact. What musical out of all ever written puts the orchestra on a level as important as the leads in the musical? What is musically the best musical? The only answer is ʻWest Side Story,’” Willis added.

After an extended correspondence with the rights holder, Music Theater International, Maestro Wills successfully negotiated rights to do the same score that was given to the first orchestra to perform it, the San Francisco Symphony in 2014. The next to do it was the New York Philharmonic in September, 2016. In 2017, which happens to be the 60th anniversary of the piece, the orchestras that are slated and given the rights to do it are the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, and the Maui Chamber Orchestra. It is an extremely rare thing.


The production will bring to the stage some of the best singer/actors including Lia Krieg-DeSouza Katy Vincent, Leighanna Locke, Lin McEwan and Carlyn Leal along with Tully OʻReilly, Ricky Jones, Isaac Rauch, Shawn Naone-Berger, David Tuttle and Stephen Webb.

“West Side Story,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on May 20, and at 3 p.m. on May 21, at the ʻĪao Theater in Wailuku.

Tickets are available by calling 242-6969 or visiting the box office Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by clicking here. There will be conversations with the conductor, Maestro Wills at 1 p.m. on May 21.


“The MCO is currently working on a Challenge Grant from the Dietrich Foundation. Every dollar contributed to the orchestra will yield $3 from the foundation. We believe this distinction, being the only other orchestra besides New York and Philadelphia to be given this opportunity to perform “West Side Story,” is a major endorsement for the quality of our chamber orchestra and we are hopeful this will spur the public to not only come to see our performances, but to support this generous challenge from Dietrich Foundation,” said MCO Board President, Walter Bissett.

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