Dialogue: Nina Bernstein (Maria) – Alexander Bernstein (Tony). Other notable cast members in the revival included Brent Barrett as Diesel, Harolyn Blackwell as Francisca, Stephen Bogardus as Mouth Piece and Reed Jones as Big Deal.
west side story musical reviews – West Side Story — Signature Theatre
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City, as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the ‘American‘ Jets and the ‘Puerto Rican’ Sharks. While his music finds its spiritual home in his world view, his music speaks with a New York accent, even though he was born in Massachusetts. His love affair with Europe and his sensitivity to his Russian and Jewish roots are never far from his lyrical expressivity, with its fragile sense of optimism, its loneliness, its humor and its demand for acceptance. All of this is wrapped in the rhythmic propulsion of a great American urban landscape. He has left us an aural image of his time and place and, at the same time, an eternal voice of humanity.
In the summer of 1957 in the West Side ‘s Lincoln Square neighborhood in Manhattan, there is tension between a white American gang, the Jets, led by Riff ( Russ Tamblyn ), and a Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, led by Bernardo ( George Chakiris ). After a brawl erupts, Lieutenant Schrank ( Simon Oakland ) and Officer Krupke ( William Bramley ) arrive and break it up, ordering both gangs to cease any further brawling or face arrest. Despite their warning, the Jets decide to challenge the Sharks to a rumble at an upcoming dance for neighborhood control.
Broadway stalwart Brian d’Arcy James (Shrek the Musical, Something Rotten) is taking on the role of Officer Krupke, the racist cop who patrols the territory of the warring Jets and Sharks. He is a three-time Tony nominee and originated the role of King George in Hamilton during its world premiere at The Public Theater.
Riff decides that his best friend Tony ( Richard Beymer ), the co-founder of the Jets who left the gang, should fight. Riff invites Tony to the dance, but Tony is uninterested. He tells Riff that he senses something important will happen, which Riff suggests could have a correlation with the dance.
Sondheim’s next theater project was similarly high profile: He teamed up with composer Jule Styne to write the lyrics for Gypsy, which opened in 1959 with Ethel Merman as its star. After musical contributions to 1960’s Invitation to a March, Sondheim then wrote both lyrics and music for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a Zero Mostel farce based on comedies by ancient playwright Plautus. It opened in 1962, ran for nearly 1,000 performances and won a Tony Award for best musical.
The mood in the rehearsal room was jubilant, the din of voices punctuated by little whoops of greeting. It was unclear as they were settling down if any of the cast members noticed that one of the creators was sitting among them. Van Hove and De Keersmaeker, both of whom are accustomed to commanding a room, took turns approaching Sondheim, almost diffidently. Are you having a good time?” Sondheim asked, with friendly, deflationary wit.
Elvig is making her 5th Avenue Theatre debut, and is a recent UW Musical Theatre graduate. She is grateful to her friends and family for their love and support and would like to thank all those involved in West Side Story. Instagram: @lindsaygeneil.
West Side Story re-imagines Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York City, as a bitter rivalry between two teenage street gangs—the American-born Jets and the Puerto Rican immigrant Sharks—is forever altered by a forbidden love affair between the young couple Tony and Maria.
Symphonic Dances Form West Side Story was premiered by the New York Philharmonic on February 13, 1961, but the conductor was Lukas Foss. Bernstein was named Music Director of the Philharmonic one year after the opening of WSS, and although he later performed and recorded the Dances with the orchestra, he never, prior to the 1985 recording, conducted a performance of the show. (He was in the pit to conduct the so-called Overture – – a compilation of tunes not made by him – -for one of the early Broadway revivals). But why should someone whose career has been so diversified concentrate on one all-consuming project, a Broadway run? Bernstein never conducted a live theater performance of his Candide, Wonderful Town, or MASS, either.
When four theatrical giants — Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim — created West Side Story, it was immediately hailed as an “indisputable, boundary-busting masterpiece” (The New York Times) that explodes every imaginable idea of what a musical can be” (New York Magazine). Now, three of the most daring theater-makers of our time — director Ivo van Hove (A View From the Bridge and The Crucible), choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, and designer and frequent Van Hove collaborator Jan Versweyveld — offer a radical, thrilling new interpretation of this iconic work, with extraordinary dancing, breathtaking vision, and 33 young, brilliantly gifted performers all making their Broadway debuts. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a landmark in musical theater history as if for the very first time.
Blissfully unaware of the gangs’ plans for that night, Maria daydreams with her friends, Rosalia, Consuelo , Teresita and Francisca, about seeing Tony (” I Feel Pretty “). Later, as Maria dances on the roof happily because she has seen Tony and believes he went to stop the rumble, Chino brings the news that Tony has killed Bernardo. Maria flees to her bedroom, praying that Chino is lying. Tony arrives to see Maria and she initially pounds on his chest with rage, but she still loves him. They plan to run away together. As the walls of Maria’s bedroom disappear, they find themselves in a dreamlike world of peace (” Somewhere “).
A grieving Anita arrives at Maria’s apartment. As Tony leaves, he tells Maria to meet him at Doc’s so they can run away to the country. In spite of her attempts to conceal it, Anita sees that Tony has been with Maria, and launches an angry tirade against him (” A Boy Like That “). Maria counters by telling Anita how powerful love is (“I Have a Love”), and Anita realizes that Maria loves Tony as much as she had loved Bernardo. She admits that Chino has a gun and is looking for Tony. Lt. Schrank arrives to question Maria about her brother’s death, and Anita agrees to go to Doc’s to tell Tony to wait. Unfortunately, the Jets, who have found Tony, have congregated at Doc’s, and they taunt Anita with racist slurs and eventually attempt rape. Doc arrives and stops them. Anita is furious, and in anger spitefully delivers the wrong message, telling the Jets that Chino has shot Maria dead.
Inspired by the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story takes Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and places them in the vibrant battleground of New York City’s West Side in the 1950s. In the midst of the deep-seated rivalry between the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, and the white gang, the Jets, Maria and Tony discover that ancient grudges are no match for true love. Their warring factions, however, refuse to back down, and the rumbles”, romance, and resentment lead the bloody path to the lovers’ ultimate, tragic conclusion With soaring, sophisticated, and diverse melodies, energetic and athletic dance battles, and its remarkably salient social message, West Side Story remains one of American musical theatre’s most revolutionary and most loved treasures.
I turned this over in my mind for years afterward. Later, I learned that the neighbor I’d talked to that day was one of about 10 people named as a Communist by Jerome Robbins, legendary choreographer for West Side Story — and former Communist Party member — in his friendly testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Robbins was a homosexual in the closet, like so many gays at that time, and some believed he’d been threatened with exposure and had buckled under the pressure. Others thought he was just ambitious, and wanted to make sure the blacklist wouldn’t get in his way.
With incredible passion, this celebrated musical recounts a story of both devotion and the hatred that divides. Through one young couple’s love, struggle and sacrifice, acceptance and forgiveness can finally take root. The remake will be directed by Steven Spielberg, with the script adapted by Tony Award winner (and Lincoln screenwriter) Tony Kushner. The remake will represent Spielberg’s first musical project in his lengthy career.
For the superlative-minded, West Side Story is the most expensive musical film ever made. It’s also one of the best. Right around Christmastime, expect to see the new adaptation in theaters. Collider reports that the film will be released on December 18, 2020.
Interestingly West Side Story,” a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” was praised by critics when it opened in 1957 for its realism and for taking audiences into a world of gang violence and poverty that finds odd bits of beauty amid the rubbish of the streets,” according to Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times.
Ramasar’s casting in West Side Story,” which is produced by Scott Rudin, Barry Diller and David Geffin and directed by Ivo van Hove, was announced in July 2019. He also starred in the Rudin and Diller-produced Carousel” from February 2018 through September 2018.
In the late 1950s two rival gangs struggle for control of their West Side New York City neighborhood. Amidst the chaos, star-crossed lovers find themselves wrenched between their worlds. Beautiful, passionate, with shades of violence and heartache, this innovative adaptation of Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet still dazzles after more than fifty years.
Reed is a filmmaker and performer with a degree from Columbia University. His recent projects include videos with The George Balanchine Foundation, Jerome Robbins Foundation, Liz Gerring Dance Company, Kayla Farrish, Maggie Segale, and Jodi Melnick.
Addie Morales (Maria) and Zach Adkins (Tony) in NC Theatre’s WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Curtis Brown Photography. West Side Story plays through Oct. 17. For ticket information, visit the theater’s website, or call 414-224-9490. Rachel Zegler, a high school student from New Jersey will play the iconic role. Broadway alums DeBose and David Alvarez will play Anita and Bernardo, and Josh Andrés Rivera will play Chino.
The next day at the bridal shop, Maria tells Anita that she can leave, that Maria will clean up. Anita is about to go when Tony arrives. She suddenly understands and promises not to tell on them. When she leaves, Tony tells Maria that the rumble will be a fair fight, but even that’s no acceptable for her, so she asks him to go to the rumble and stop it. He agrees. He’ll do anything for her. They fantasize about being together and getting married (One Hand, One Heart”). Later, the members of the ensemble wait expectantly for the fight, all for different reasons (Tonight Quintet”).
I do not, in general, enjoy musicals; but I grew with West Side Story so it is firmly lodged in my mind as a timeless classic. My big sister was a teenager then, and I heard the soundtrack so many times that I have all the songs committed to memory, playing in my head for all the decades since. If Broadway isn’t your thing, then West Side Story might not be, either.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City as two young, idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching. and relevant musical dramas of our time.
Corey returns to The 5th as Action. Past 5th Avenue Theatre shows include A Chorus Line, Spamalot, Oliver!, ELF-The Musical, Damn Yankees and The Music Man (Tommy Djilas). The Question and Answer section for West Side Story (1961 film) is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Robbins got results. The dance sequences in West Side Story are just stunning—all these bodies flying around in every direction, defying gravity, landing with absolute precision in their right place. The whole movie looks artificial, but much of it was shot on location in New York, which means those dancers were landing on cement. Even when they’re fighting, they’re graceful and expressive and acrobatic. The rumble scenes remind me a bit of Hong Kong martial-arts movies—dreamlike battles with their own internal logic.
Trujillo and Delgado became, in effect, translators, experimenting with the Sharks to propose movements — flourishes of the arms, the introduction of salsa and merengue steps and turns, shaking, active hips, a funky little chug to cross the floor. De Keersmaeker, in response, would take up the movements and make adjustments to bring them back into her vocabulary (the shoulders would be lowered slightly, a hip shake made tighter). It was the back-and-forth that she had envisioned. The two gangs’ movements became more distinct, with the Jets dancing on their backs and stomachs, manipulating their limbs like break dancers, then rising to attack. The Sharks were more upright, their arms more rounded, their bodies moving like water.
Ramirez also wanted to highlight the youth of the characters, and saw her casting of two first-years as Tony and Maria as an advantage in accurately representing their teenage characters’ struggles against the adult violence and community pressures that inform their decisions and limit their choices.
Paige Levy, a senior at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, had organized the protest after she became frustrated at a lack of action being taken against Ramasar. Levy, who is currently applying to university musical theater programs, noted that she was moved to organize as an aspiring professional in the field.
WEST SIDE STORY marries stunning choreography to a matchless songbook – Maria, America, Somewhere, Tonight – as it translates ROMEO AND JULIET to 1950s Manhattan. It’s the Jets and the Sharks, two rival gangs who make New York’s mean streets even meaner. But it’s also passionate, tender and deeply romantic – the greatest love story ever told.
Sondheim has said before that he isn’t fond of some of the lines he wrote. He regretted the showy internal rhymes in I Feel Pretty” — it’s alarming how charming I feel” — which he later came to see as not believable for Maria, a new immigrant who still doesn’t speak fluent English. Same for Tony’s line, in Tonight,” Today the world was just an address.” Excuse me?” Sondheim said, self-mockingly. That’s a writer. That ain’t Tony!” Occasionally, he and Bernstein had disagreements. While Bernstein’s theatrical instincts were marvelous,” his lyrical ones were less so. Bernstein’s idea of poetic lyric writing is written poetry, or what I call purple prose.” Sondheim’s own idea of poetic lyric writing was conversational.” It was when he stuck to his guns that he produced his best lines.