West Side Story is an American musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.
The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid-1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood. (In the early 1960s much of the neighborhood would be cleared in an urban renewal project for the Lincoln Center, changing the neighborhood's character.).
The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico are taunted by the Jets, a Polish-American working-class group.
The young protagonist, Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical includes "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "A Boy Like That", "One Hand, One Heart", "Gee, Officer Krupke", and "Cool".
The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances before going on tour.
The production was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man; it won one Tony for Robbins' choreography and one for Oliver Smith's scenic designs.
The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international productions. The play spawned an innovative 1961 musical film of the same name, directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. The film won ten Academy Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Picture.
In this production...
This new production is directed by librettist Arthur Laurents and features new bilingual staging, with some dialogue and songs sung in Spanish.
The show is produced at Washington’s National Theatre, the host of the original pre-Broadway presentation back in 1957.
Well filmed from the balcony with a nice mix of close-ups and full stage shots. Also included on the disc is the first 14 minutes of the show filmed at the following nights performance. The filmer stated that Sondheim was in attendance for this performance.
Starring: Matt Cavenaugh, Josefina Scaglione, Karen Olivo, Cody Green, Geroge Akram, Curtis Holbrook, Joey Haro.
Run time: 132m + additional 15+ minutes of bonus footage
B&W / Color: Color
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