Thursday, July 24, 2008

Broadway Preview: West Side Story

Broadway Preview: West Side Story

As if to prove that nonagenarians have more fun, or infinitely more insight into Broadway’s biggest and best classics, Arthur Laurents is ready to take on his second major Broadway mounting in two years.

First, of course, came his definitive direction for the best musical of all time, Gypsy -- an American original for which he wrote the timeless libretto. Now, he’s ready to recreate another musical that includes his book: Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein’s 1957 masterpiece West Side Story, a show that was ahead of its time in terms of critical acceptance.

Technically only the second Great White Way revival of the modern New York update of William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet, West Side Story will open at a Nederlander Theatre in March 2009 after beginning previews on February 23, shortly after its out-of-town tryout (December 16, 2008 – January 17, 2009) at Washington’s National Theatre.

While the new incarnation will recreate Jerome Robbins’ original Tony-winning choreography, look for the West Side Story revival to be bilingual for added authenticity, along with a cast of 37 and orchestra of 30. However, casting has yet to be announced.

Laurents has stated, “This show will be radically different from any other production of West Side Story ever done. The musical theatre and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be. Only Tony and Maria try to live in a different world…"

The original 1957 production first played the Winter Garden Theatre before moving to the Broadway Theatre for a couple months in 1959, and then back to the Winter Garden, where it closed in June 1959. All totaled, the original West Side Story enjoyed 732 performances.

But that “original” production didn’t simply end there. Less than one year later, a “return engagement” reopened at the Winter Garden Theatre for another 249 performances.

While a City Center version of the show came along just a few years later, it wasn’t until February 14, 1980, that the first and only full-fledged Broadway revival opened at the Minskoff Theatre, where it played through November of that year for 333 performances.

Will Laurents’ respected renaissance prove to be no fluke? After being mesmerized by Gypsy, I have included this toward the top of my list of Broadway shows I’m most looking forwarding to seeing throughout this new Theatrical Season.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Broadway Preview: 9 To 5 (July 16, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Mary Stuart (July 15, 2008)
Broadway Preview: The American Plan (July 14, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Shrek The Musical (July 13, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Waiting For Godot (July 12, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Pal Joey (July 11, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Dividing The Estate (July 10, 2008)
Broadway Preview: 13 (July 9, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Speed-The-Plow (July 8, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Billy Elliot - The Musical (July 7, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Godspell (July 6, 2008)
Broadway Preview: All My Sons (July 5, 2008)
Broadway Preview: A Man For All Seasons (July 3, 2008)
Broadway Preview: To Be Or Not To Be (July 2, 2008)
Broadway Preview: The Seagull (July 1, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Equus (June 30, 2008)
Broadway Preview: A Tale Of Two Cities (June 28, 2008)
Broadway Preview: for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf (June 25, 2008)
Broadway Preview: [title of show] (June 24, 2008)
Broadway: What's Next (June 20, 2008)

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At 24 July, 2008, Blogger the artist formerly known as jess. said...

A WSS revival? I can't wait...

At 24 July, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

I can definitely some of the ITH OBC cast members resurfacing in WSS... Andrea Burns as Anita comes immediately to mind.


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