San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas set out to create the definitive concert version of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece "West Side Story." In a live concert recorded last June – starring Cheyenne Jackson as Tony, Alexandra Silber as Maria, Jessica Vosk as Anita, and Kevin Vortmann as Riff – Tilson Thomas and company succeeded brilliantly.
Star Cheyenne Jackson, a champion of LGBT causes, is known for his on and Off Broadway roles in "Xanadu," "Finian's Rainbow," and "Damn Yankees," and for his TV roles on "30 Rock," "Glee," and "Behind the Candelabra."
"'West Side Story' is hands down the most beautiful score ever written, so I jumped at the chance to do it," he says. "I played Tony in a community theatre production when I was 23, but having sung a lot of pop music lately, I had to get back in practice to do that score."
"I wanted to go with singing actors," says Tilson Thomas. "That's really who 'West Side Story' was written for. I wanted something you would recognize as part of a Broadway music theater production."
The recorded concert is now available on digital download or in CD set that includes a beautiful 100-page book filled with interviews, photos, the complete lyrics, plus background information on Bernstein and all things "West Side Story."
One of the joys of the two-disc CD is that, unlike other cast recordings, it includes all the music from the show, including the dance and incidental music. This gives new appreciation for the way that Bernstein wove his musical themes throughout the score.
The digital download is available on iTunes and the CD online at: www.shopsfsymphony.org/shop.