Broadway West Side Story – A Kaleidoscopic View Into The Past Of The Spectacular Musical
To get a feel of the high drama surrounding gang rivalries of 1950s New York, one must catch up with Broadway West Side Story version. ‘West Side Story’ received great acclaim as a landmark theatrical Broadway production.
The musical drew its inspiration from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Origin Of The Play
American stage director and playwright, Arthur Laurents made this musical a reality. Also, he and director, Jerome Robbins wanted the backdrop to have a contemporary feel with reflections upon the socio-cultural conflicts within the society which Broadway West Side Story portrays.
Therefore, even though the play was inspired by ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ the plot and backdrop mirrored the conflict between two separate ethnic groups.
Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed this classic. Broadway’s ‘West Side Story’ was premiered in 1957.
In the year 1949, Robbins met Laurents and music composer, Leonard Bernstein. Robbins proposed to make a musical concentrating on a clash between two families – one Jewish and the other an Italian-Roman family.
Laurents, who was equally enthusiastic, wrote an initial draft and named it East Side Story. However, the three had some disagreements on their views about the drama form.
Due to this, the project was shelved for five years. However, after this gap, Laurents got in touch with Bernstein again. This time they decided to incorporate the juvenile criminal gangs theme as a major angle in the plot.
The play was renamed ‘West Side Story.’ Ultimately, the two called upon Robbins and the three were together again to make Broadway West Side Story a reality.
Bernstein decided to take charge of composing the musical score for the play. And lyricist Stephen Sondheim took over the lyrics department.Casting And Music
The play contained more music and dance numbers than any other stage presentation during those years.
Actor, James Dean was thought of earlier for playing the role of Tony, a chief character in the play. However, Dean passed away before even listening to the characterization.
However, later Larry Kert and Chita Rivera were rolled in to play the lead roles of Tony and Anita.
The other important roles were performed by actors- Carol Lawrence, Mickey Calin, Art Smith, David Winter and Ken LeRoy.
As stated by Laurents, this musical was apparently impossible to stage due to its extravagant musical pieces. In some of the sequences, the actors were required to dance, sing and act simultaneously. This made it one of the most challenging plays of the times.
Laurents felt that certain song lyrics like those of ‘America’ and ‘I feel Pretty’ were not fitting the play’s mood. However, these turned out to be few of the most famous pieces of the times.
The other musical masterpieces of the presentation were ‘One hand, One heart’ and ‘Tonight.’
This musical was restored again and again over the decades. In order to catch up with the magic grab Broadway West Side Story tickets and have a great evening on Broadway!
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