News Column

'West Side Story' Tale of Love, Ethnic Tension Still Relevant

June 13, 2013


Maybe you're old enough to remember the 1961 film "West Side Story," with a young Natalie Wood playing Maria. The film won 10 Academy Awards.

The musical about two youths from rival gangs in New York City who fall in love was inspired by Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet."

The tale of ethnic-inspired hatred and intolerance in "West Side Story" seems to be, unfortunately, timeless, making the show as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago.

The Broadway revival of "West Side Story" is coming to Fort Wayne for one performance Monday at the Embassy Theatre.

The original Broadway show preceded the movie, opening in 1957. It is set in mid-1950s New York City in a neighborhood with rival gangs: the Sharks from Puerto Rico and the Jets, a Polish-American gang.

Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, sister of the leader of the Sharks. Let's just say things don't end well.

Both the Broadway show and the movie featured extended dance scenes and unforgettable music: songs such as "Something's Coming," "Maria," "Somewhere," "I Feel Pretty" and "America."

In the Broadway revival coming to Fort Wayne, Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely reproduced the original Jerome Robbins choreography. Arthur Laurents wrote the book, Leonard Bernstein created the music and Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics.


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