September 26, 1957, would mark the beginning of a worldwide celebrated story and one of the most beautiful productions of the 50’s. This was the original production of West Side Story and would be widely celebrated for the next two years after its production. There were more than 732 regular performances ran for a period of two years before it officially closed in 1959.
The Setting of the Story
The world will remember Arthur Laurent with his exceptional skills not just as an author but also a competent director. West Side Story was not an individual work but involved Jerome Robbins who choreographed and directed the entire setting.
1957-New York, NY: Theater still from the 1957 Broadway production of ‘West Side Story,’ directed by Jerome Robbins. This scene shows the high school dance. (Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Stephen Sondheim did the lyrics while Leonard Bernstein made the music. The story came at a perfect timing of what was happening in Manhattan and addressed various concerns such as the warring culture and gang violence. The story borrowed so much from Romeo and Juliet, and many see it as an update of this famous play. New York had changed by the ‘50s and, therefore, the story of Romeo and Juliet which was a darling for many in the ‘40s did not have much influence in the current world. The author and the director of the story twisted the storyline and increased the tension in the play making it more dynamic. Many people perceived it as a classic work that portrayed someone’s life not just at that particular time but would continue to unfold throughout their lives.
The Story behind West Side Story
The Sharks, a new gang group is determined to take over the streets of Manhattan, New York which over the years have been terrorized by the Jets. The battle for survival is what bubbles violence in the streets and raises tension as the community take to stage to witnesses the bullying and tormenting.
Scene from the Broadway musical ‘West Side Story,’ L-R: Lynn Ross, unnamed actress, Chita Rivera, and Carmen Guitterez. Undated photo. (Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A sudden fight erupts in a famous playground involving both members of the gang groups, but luckily the two police officers patrolling the streets come to the rescue. This is the begging of the long battle as the Jets seek to settle the difference and set boundaries between the two groups. This would only be achieved through street fights characterized by the use of knives and zip guns. The entire story revolves around the incidences that followed as both groups chose to achieve dominance.
The Story of Arthur Laurent
Arthur is one of the most successful authors of the ‘50s and is known for many musical plays such as Anyone Can Whistle, Hallelujah Baby, The Snake Pit, and the West Side Story. He was born on July 14, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York.
Portrait of American playwright and theatre director Arthur Laurents as he poses across the street from the Palace Theatre (at Broadway & 47th St), New York, New York, mid 1984. Laurents’ was the director of the musicial production of ‘La Cage aux Folles’ was performed at the Palace, and was the recipient of six 1984 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
Arthur schooled in Cornell University after which he started taking evening classes in radio writing. He is not just remembered as a writer but also as a director of musical plays. Some of the famous musical plays he directed won various locals awards, and in 1984, he won an award as the best director of musical plays. He worked with reputable organizations such as the National Institute of Arts, Golden Globe, and the Sydney Drama Critics. He was very successful before he officially retired as a director of musical plays. He died on 5th May 215 at the age of 93 and was laid to rest in New York.
The American Composer, Leonard Bernstein
This famous American composer was born August 25, 1918, and is one of the few composers celebrated by the world ever to be born and raised in the United States. Not many American composers during his era had era had ever received worldwide acclaim, but his talent made him outstanding.
NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 5: Composer Leonard Bernstein in a recording studio on November 5, 1974, in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)
As a young boy, he enjoyed taking piano classes before he later joined Harvard University where he graduated in 1939. In 1951 he officially married his long-term girlfriend, a pianist and an actress. Many people know him from New York Philharmonic where he was the director and also for his contribution in the West Side Story. He died in 1990 at the age of 72 while working as s lecturer.
The History of the Broadway Production
The objective establishing of this production has filled a gap that had existed for years. There was no serious production in New York up to the 1750’s, and this is what aroused the urge for change. People wanted a better place with a better accommodating capacity, and Broadway production was that change.
NEW YORK – MARCH 19: A exterior view of the Palace Theatre at the opening night of ‘West Side Story’ on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on March 19, 2009, in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
It is located at Lincoln Center along Broadway and is currently one of the famous commercial theatres to ever exist in the English speaking world. It is also a major tourist attraction with many of its shows being musicals, it defines an outstanding American culture and has helped to make New York a true cultural center. It has many awards including the
Famous Awards Won by the Broadway Production
Antoinette Perry Awards honors Broadway production together with its artists; this is what is referred to as Tony Awards. Tony Awards is the big thing for Broadways and can only be compared to Academy Award which is done by Hollywood film production.
SAMSUN, TURKEY – APRIL 21: American musical ‘West Side Story’ is displayed in a small north city Samsun, Turkey on April 21, 2014. The Broadway musical was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid-1950s, between the Jets and the Sharks from Puerto Rico, different ethnic groups. (Photo by Ercin Top/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Some of the famous awards won by Broadway Production include Drama Desk Awards which was presented to the production in 1955 and the New York Drama Critics Awards which was the first award to be presented to the production back in 1930.
The West Side Story Movie
‘Tony takes the last shot and dies in Maria’s arms as both gang groups gather around him not believing that it had happened.’ This is the last scene of the West Side Story movie that has a sad ending after two gang groups openly engage in the streets in their quest for dominance. The Sharks had sought to outpost the Jets who had established themselves and fearlessly terrorized the residents. The two hours and thirty-three minutes movies revolve around two feuding families with the Jets led by the Riff while Bernado heads the Sharks.
HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 15: Amber Tamblyn (2nd L), Russ Tamblyn (5th L), and family attend ‘West Side Story: 50th anniversary’ hand & footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 15, 2011, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
Steven Spielberg, one of the famous shy celebrities has been linked with a retake of the movie although he has not openly talked about. He, however, admitted that he is a better director and believes that he can do a better job in the Wide Story Side Movie. If the rumor according to Lucy, one of his close allies, then he only wants to show the world how good he is.