Rachael Worby has a story about a story, one that leads to — you guessed it — another story. This all makes a little more sense when you discover the first story is a backstory, the second is “West Side Story” and the third is Muse/ique’s upcoming concert, “In/side Story.”
So the backstory involved one of Worby’s heroes, Leonard Bernstein. As she tells it, Bernstein was taking a midday break from conducting a rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl in 1955 when he headed over to meet friend Arthur Laurents at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Legs dangling in the pool, the two future legends discussed the daily newspaper’s headlines about gangs of delinquents. One thing led to another —William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” got tossed into the mix — and the poolside conversation resulted in the jets, sharks and an unforgettable masterpiece of American musical theater.
And now, 60 years later, Worby and Muse/ique set out to re-imagine Bernstein and Laurents’ “West Side Story” as the group’s final concert of the summer, “In/side Story.” The concert, which will follow the “End of Summer” gala at the Blacker House, will feature the usual Muse/ique dynamic genre-bending creations. Classics from “West Side Story,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” and Peggy Lee and the Beatles, among a variety of others, will be delivered through gospel singers, hip-hop dancers, operatic singers and other surprises.
But Worby said there was no singular legs-in-the-hotel-pool moment that gave birth to the Aug. 29 concert, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Caltech’s Beckman Mall Lawn.
“It’s one of those things that actually did not emerge all at once,” said Worby. “The more I started to imagine Muse/ique inside of ‘West Side Story,’ the more I felt I had permission to expand on the intent of the night and to expand the audience’s thinking.”
But before the audience arrives at Caltech, Muse/ique’s supporters will have the opportunity to attend the “End of Summer” gala at the Blacker House, owned by Harvey and Ellen Knell. The gala will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring entertainment, signature cocktails, food catered by Kitchen for Exploring Foods and transportation provided to Caltech. Gala tickets, which include admission for the summer’s final performance, are still available for $625 and sponsorship patron packages are also available.
“Ellen and I are so pleased to have been a part of Muse/ique from the very beginning and look forward to Aug. 29’s ‘In/side Story,’ the final concert and to hosting the ‘End of Summer Gala’ at our home,” said Harvey Knell, a founding board member of Muse/ique. “Since it’s a Muse/ique event, we know our home will be full of surprises from start to finish.”
Board President LeeAnn Havner agreed, citing last year’s final performance as evidence. As guests parked their cars, they were greeted to unexpected entertainment from jugglers and mimes on their way into the show.
“Rachael always brings out something unique and surprising,” said Havner. “It’s entertainment from start to finish.”
Always an appreciator of many forms of art, Worby said the Knell’s backyard will prove as a perfect backdrop for the pre-concert event.
“I see the Blacker House as a central piece of unique art in Pasadena that stands above and apart, even from all other Greene and Greene homes,” said Worby. “There’s a way in which it resonates for me.”
Speaking of resonating, another of Muse/ique’s founding board members, Jerry Kohl, anticipates another Worby-creation to connect with audiences on a deep level.
“Rachael has a unique talent to educate and stimulate the thinking of the audience while playing music in ways I never imagined,” said Kohl. “In a time of cutbacks in music education and programming by orchestras and music groups, Rachael is unequaled anywhere. I’m proud to attend her concerts.”
And before Kohl gets to Caltech, he and up to 300 other guests will have the opportunity to take part in an inventive gala at the Blacker House that Worby said “is not your grandfather’s gala.”
“It won’t be like anything you’ve experienced before,” said Worby. “The best finale is the kind that leaves you wanting more. This is our happy ending.”
For more information, visit muse-ique.com or call (626) 539-7085.