West Side Story
ABOUT THE PLAY
Shakespeare’s tragedies have usually been adapted only by operatic composers such as Rossini, Donizetti, Gounod, Adam, and Verdi. Musical composers have stuck to the Bard’s comedies and given us the likes of Kiss Me Kate, The Boys from Syracuse, Your Own Thing, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Only Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents have successfully taken a tragedy and brought it to the Broadway musical stage.
Romeo and Juliet, with its tale of bigoted, feuding clans in Renaissance Italy, has been transferred to a rough Manhattan neighborhood in the 1950s where the war is between teen gangs of native born Americans (Jets) and Puerto Ricans (Sharks). Like their Shakespearean counterparts, Tony and Maria meet, love, and lose the battle against mindless hatred-but the ending is perhaps a bit more hopeful than its antecedent. In a world still torn by senseless discrimination and violence, this ray of hope could not be more timely.
Shakespeare’s stage was a spare, open unit set that could easily house any manner of exterior and interior scenes. A line or two of dialog and the imagination of the audience were all that was needed to whisk the theatre goer from one locale to another. Taking our cue from this tradition, this production of West Side Story swiftly and fluidly moves from space to space with just the slightest scenic hints in order to heighten the relentless force of the drama.
In many ways, I feel as if the title “director” is the incorrect one for me for this production. The cast, artistic team, and design staff have so taken ownership of what you are about to seethat I think a more appropriate title for me might be “guide.” I have pointed the way here and there and suggested certain routes, but that is about it. All I can say is thank you one and all for taking me along for the journey!
|Performed July 2-3, 5-6, 8-12, 15-19, 2008|
The Jets: Their Girls:
Riff…………. Will Mills Graziella ……….Deb Saxe
The Sharks: Their Girls:
Bernardo…….. Ben Thomas Rosalia………… Christen Buckley