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1001 Stories Collection

West Side Story

1001 westsidestory
Added on 09th July 2020

Author Arthur Laurents
Director Jerome Robbins
Composer Leonard Bernstein
lyricist Stephen Sondheim

Identity and fairness
1001

A memorable musical about gang rivalry and love set in New York City.

Story

It’s 1950s New York and two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, are fighting to control the streets of the Upper West Side. However, when Tony (a Jet) and Maria (sister of a Shark) meet at a dance, they fall madly in love. Meeting in secrecy, they plan to run away together to escape the violence.

Why we chose it

West Side Story is a high-energy, romantic musical that has captivated audiences for decades and become a movie classic. It translates an iconic love story into a modern urban setting, combining tense, stylish choreography with many memorable and much-loved songs (including ‘Maria’, ‘Tonight’, and ‘America’). At its heart is a plea for tolerance and reconciliation.

Where it came from

Jerome Robbins approached Bernstein and Laurents in 1947 with the idea for a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. By the 1950s, gang violence was widespread across New York. The setting was largely based on an area called Hell’s Kitchen, where street fights against Puerto Rican immigrants were common.

Where it went next

Although the original Broadway production won two Tony awards in 1958, it was the 1961 movie adaptation that really made the story famous. The film won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Since, there have been multiple Broadway revivals, and the musical has toured across the world. A new film adaptation, directed by Stephen Spielberg, is also in development.

Associated stories

The creators of West Side Story were involved in numerous other musical productions, notably Bernstein’s On The Town (1944) and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (1976) and Into the Woods (1987).

Added on 09th July 2020

Author Arthur Laurents
Director Jerome Robbins
Composer Leonard Bernstein
lyricist Stephen Sondheim

Identity and fairness
1001