Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Something's Coming: A Closing For West Side Story Revival

Something's Coming: A Closing For West Side Story Revival

On the very day that the newly renamed Stephen Sondheim Theatre is formally unveiled, news comes that the current Broadway revival of West Side Story -- the show for which Sondheim earned his earliest lyrical credit -- is set to close January 2, 2011, after 748 regular performances.

In recent weeks, audiences have dwindled precipitously. Just last week, West Side Story had the dubious distinction of attracting the lowest capacity of any Broadway show: just 50.5%. So the handwriting was certainly on the wall. West Side Story opens up the Palace Theatre for the United States premiere of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert in March 2011.

As I noted in my SOB Review from April 2009, I genuinely adore the gorgeous score Sondheim wrote with Leonard Bernstein. Yet I felt cheated by this revival's initial use of the Spanish language that came without any sub or supertitles. It seemed to come as a surprise to director Arthur Laurents that not everyone -- including a new generation of theatregoers -- were not familiar enough with West Side Story for that conceit to work. Ultimately, he relented and most of the Spanish language elements were reverted back to English.

In spite of that, Karen Olivo earned a Tony Award for her sharp turn as Anita. The show itself garnered three other Tony nods, including for the affecting performance offered by Josefina Scaglione as Maria. Olivo left the production back in May due to an injury. Scaglione departs the production on September 19.

As a revival, this West Side Story goes out a winner, having recouped nearly one year ago. Additionally, the show was honored with a Grammy Award in January for its lush cast recording.

If you've missed West Side Story on Broadway, at least you'll have your chance to see it somewhere as the national tour kicks off September 30 in Detroit.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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