CriticalDance Forum

West Side Story
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jun 30, 2002 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  West Side Story

<B>At Wolf Trap, the Sharks and Jets Are at It Again</B> <BR>By William Triplett for The Washington Post<P><BR>So what if "West Side Story" is pushing 50? It remains a classic, vibrant and utterly winning example of collaborative genius. Genius that, moreover, transcends whatever shortcomings it might have. Arthur Laurents's book, for instance, was in some ways dated when the otherwise groundbreaking musical opened on Broadway in 1957.<P>But Laurents managed to capture the rough-and-tumble spirit of what he wanted to dramatize (using, of course, one of the great tragic love stories as his model). His dream-team partners -- composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and director-choreographer Jerome Robbins -- did the rest, stunningly bringing that spirit to life.<P>The production that opened this week at Wolf Trap for a brief run before starting a national tour reproduces the original staging and dancing. It has a fine cast, a sharp look and a fevered heartbeat. Bodies surge across the stage and sometimes fly through the air in a sort of hip, angry ballet. Sheer physical energy pulsates across the footlights, and you often can't help but feel awed by the enduring visceral power of this show.<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Sep 08, 2002 10:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

There's still a place for 'West Side Story' 45 years later
By Joan Behrmann / Special to The Detroit News

A mighty fortress is "West Side Story."

Inspired, written, composed and choreographed by the best of American talent -- with a little help from Shakespeare -- the musical drama has withstood multiple revivals over the past 45 years without losing its glow.

This tale of two star-crossed lovers, "Romeo and Juliet" transported to New York's Upper West Side, retains its poignancy, its humor and even its ability to shock.

After all, how many musicals have you seen in which the Act I curtain goes down on two fresh corpses?

In 1957, when gang wars threatened the peace of many American cities, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and book writer Arthur Laurents collaborated with director and choreographer Jerome Robbins to create "West Side Story," the quintessential musical drama of its time.

click for more

Author:  djb [ Sun Sep 08, 2002 3:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

A friend told me that the "Billboard Book of Top 40 Albums" says that West Side Story was the top selling album of the rock era (I don't know whether "rock era" was my friend's terminology or the book's). A tape I made of the musical numbers is one of my most-watched tapes. In the neighborhood I grew up in, it seemed that everyone owned either the movie soundtrack, the stage show soundtrack or both. When I saw the movie in 1962, I fell in love with it instantly and forever. I would love to see a really good stage production.

Author:  trina [ Sun Sep 08, 2002 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

Could be true. I believe that the soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever" is the biggest selling movie soundtrack, if I'm not mistaken. West Side Story could well be the biggest selling musical, because I think it's been around for s-o-o-o long, too. :D

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

In Greg Lawrence's biography of Jerome Robbins,
"Dance with demons : the life of Jerome Robbins" he spends quite a bit of time talking about West Side Story and its creation. Very intersting reading.

I know I mentioned this in another thread, but here goes again. I was a neighbor of the original "Riff" - Mickey Callen (Michael Callenoff). Being the generation that I am :) West Side Story was a very big big deal to the teens of the time. We listened to, danced to, and sang those songs constantly. I still love it. I still have the 33 1/3 record of the original cast.

I do have a tape of the movie and I don't think that the movie does justice to Jerome Robbins' choreography. In some of the dance scenes the camera kind of pans around and then goes fuzzy instead of just showing the dancing.

<small>[ 09-09-2002, 22:27: Message edited by: Basheva ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Tue Sep 10, 2002 2:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

Well, I was a pre-teen (11) when I saw the movie, and, being an unprecocious child, was still young enough to "play" West Side Story with the other neighborhood girls. Everyone wanted to be Anita, except for one very good girl whose ambition was to be a nun -- she always played Maria, because Anita was not a nice girl.

Some of us would walk down the street in a pack, snapping our fingers in unison, trying to look tough (which is pretty difficult when you're snapping your fingers in unison), and saying "Beat it!" to the little kids we encountered. None of them ever seemed to be intimidated, though.

That same year, the high point of the semester for me in my 7th grade string orchestra class was the day one of the violinists came late to class because she had been writing down the music for the song "Tonight" (just the melody). She'd mimeographed enough copies for the whole class -- and in the correct clef for each instrument -- so the teacher let us work on it for the whole class.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Sep 10, 2002 3:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

"West Side Story" is a fine work. I remember that it went through a phase around 1970 when some people seeing it for the first time thought it looked dated. However, WSS has come through the other side of the 70s era with flying colours.

Time I saw it again.

<small>[ 09-12-2002, 13:37: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Tue Sep 10, 2002 3:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

Yes, I saw it at college in 1969, I believe. I was very disappointed that so many people laughed at it, even though it looked dated. I think most of the dancers had seen it when they were young and were partial to it. Even if they hadn't seen it, they could appreciate the dancing and choreography. But the others students were, I believe, primarily laughing at the outmoded clothes and hairstyles, and maybe at the old slang. Now it's the clothes and hair of 1969 that seem more laughable to me.

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Sep 10, 2002 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

When my son was in high school (early 1980's) he and all his friends thought 'West Side Story' and everything to do with the 1950's (especially the late 1950's) was so 'cool.' He used to come home from school and try to tell me all about how people used to act and dress in those years. He called it 'nostalgia.' He also would tell me that his friends were really into the dances we did in the late 1950's.

He would try to describe it all to me, and he was quite shocked when I told him that I knew all about how the kids back then dressed and looked. When I showed him how we jitterbugged - his mouth fell open in surprise. Mother can jitterbug? Yes, she can.

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Author:  angela [ Wed Sep 11, 2002 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

I grew up w/ all kinds of music in the house......
and musicals were a BIG part of my listening/watching experience.
My HS(high school) performed WSS in my sophomore year--as a matter of fact I think at least THREE other schools in the Bronx performed it(I went to Christopher Columbus HS in Bronx,NY,Anne Bancrofts alma mater).OURS was best of course(LOL)-it REALLY was a great production.
At the time EVERYONE I knew in my school loved it because Columbus HS was/is VERY academic and artistic centered and WWS was/is a musical about TEENS, set in OUR city.So its was pretty exciting to us. TODAY however,I with more Hispanics in the media in the US,I dont know if it would be as well received still or looked at as too stereotypical.I think the last Broadway production was in the early 1980s.
I remember some Hispanics complaining about a possible HS production in one of the US cities.

<small>[ 09-11-2002, 12:47: Message edited by: angela ]</small>

Author:  ArtsMan [ Thu Sep 26, 2002 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

In the Hartford Courant:

`West Side Story' in Hartford

Donna Larcen

The Jets and the Sharks are back on stage at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday through Oct. 6 as the touring company of "West Side Story" stops in Hartford. more

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Oct 11, 2002 8:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

A must read article for lovers of West Side Story....

From the Los Angeles Times:

Sharks and Jets: Musical History
Movies* Cast and crew from the 1961 classic 'West Side Story' gather in Hollywood for a reunion screening in honor of their director, Robert Wise.


The leader of the Sharks and the leader of the Jets, sitting side by side. Bernardo and Riff brought together by a common affection for Robert Wise, director of the Oscar-winning movie musical "West Side Story."

"We are forever in his debt for the opportunity of a lifetime," said George Chakiris, who won a best supporting actor Oscar as Bernardo. "He believed in what we were doing, and it created a bond that has made us a family to this day." From the audience, a significant number of that reunited family, including Oscar-winning Rita Moreno (Anita), Russ Tamblyn (Riff) and Marni Nixon (the uncredited singing voice of Natalie Wood's Maria) and 19 assorted Jets and Sharks cheered in agreement.

Author:  angela [ Fri Oct 11, 2002 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

THANX Artsman and Ms B!
It would have been GREAT if Eliot Feld(of Eliot Feld Ballet now Ballet Tech/NY) was there at the LA reunion--if anyone recalls he was 'Baby John' in the original Broadway and movie versions.

<small>[ 10-11-2002, 15:37: Message edited by: angela ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Fri Oct 11, 2002 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

So Russ Tamblyn almost missed out on West Side Story because the studio wanted to put him in Where The Boys Are? I'm glad he convinced the studio otherwise.

I knew a man who was one of the original Jets on Broadway, starting when he was 14. He was also Eliot Feld's understudy. He said Feld often let him do his featured dance parts at the last minute - the parts that were very hard on the knees, that is.

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Apr 04, 2003 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: West Side Story

A review of the two-disc set:

Dancing 'West Side Story' still a leap ahead of the rest


It is probably only a matter of time, given Hollywood's reawakened interest in musicals, until somebody gets the bright idea to remake West Side Story. Until then, the 1961 original will do just fine, especially on the outstanding two-disc Special Edition released this week (MGM, $40). <a href= target=_blank>more</a>

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