West Side Story

Definition

Theater

  • The highly innovative Broadway musical set in New York's gangland,with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.The idea of setting a modern version of Romeo and Juliet indowntown New York was first suggested by Jerome Robbins, who subsequentlydirected and choreographed the musical. Arthur Laurents wrote thebook. After out-of-town tryouts, West Side Story opened on Broadwayin 1957 and the critics immediately recognized a milestone in the historyof musical theater. Robbins's energetic dance patterns came in for particularpraise. A year later the show transferred to Her Majesty's Theatre, London, where it enjoyed a long run and won the Evening Standard Award. Songs include 'Maria', 'Tonight', 'America', 'I Feel Pretty', and 'There's A Place for Us'. Of the numerous revivals, Arthur Laurents's 2009 Broadwayproduction was notable for restoring a sense of contemporary authenticityand danger to the show.

    The first scene introduces two rival West Side gangs, theJets and the Sharks. Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love withMaria, the sister of the Shark's leader, Bernardo. Tony accidentallystabs Bernardo to death whilst trying to prevent a fight; althoughMaria is devastated, she forgives him and they plan to elope. Whilstwaiting for her to join him, Tony is deceived into believing thatMaria has been murdered. Devastated, he seeks out Maria's former fianc├ęChino, who shoots him and leaves him to die in Maria's arms.

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