November 21st, 2010

wss quintet by sixtiespink

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George Chakiris: A Star 48 Years After His Oscar

I can't imagine Hollywood without the Academy Awards, but still, they bug me - just a little.

It must be my habitual romancing of Hollywood's past that makes me long to watch the annual elegant escapade under the soft tone of a 1950's broadcast in burnished black and white. I suspect the undeniably smug attitude of Hollywood's big night was barely received on grandma's gold-toned rabbit ears. Still, celebrities will be stars, and smug, or modest, it's an education to reflect on a star 48 years after the big night.

In 1962, George Chakiris' portrayal of Bernardo in West Side Story took the silver screen by storm, earning him an Academy Award. Forty-eight years later George talked to me about life lived under, next to, and out of the spotlight.
wss tony maria by snowy_icons

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George Heymont
San Francisco-based arts critic

Revisiting West Side Story (VIDEOS)

Singers often like to put their own personal stamp on a piece of popular music. Louis Armstrong's recording of the title song from Hello, Dolly! became an instant hit on the radio (as did Eydie Gormé's rendition of "If He Walked Into My Life" from Jerry Herman's next show, Mame). While Cher's attempt to sing all the roles in West Side Story is a nice concept, no one ever took it too seriously.

Although I did not see the original production of West Side Story, I've been lucky to see several others (ranging from the 1964 New York City Center revival to the 1980 Broadway revival and Opera Pacific's 1987 production).
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