Broadway Features and Reviews
The First West Side Story
By Chanelle Sicard, Broadway Magazine
This spring West Side Story has returned to Broadway. When West Side Story first opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1957 it created an all new genre of theatre that fused ballet and opera, and was hailed by Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times as "an incandescent piece of work that [found] odd bits of beauty amid the rubbish of the streets." Set in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, West Side Story was a contemporary Romeo and Juliet that articulated the problems of youth in 1950's America.
The original Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards® in 1958 and ran 732 performances, then toured and revisited the Winter Garden Theatre in 1960 for an additional 253 performances. West Side Story's choreography was foreseen by TIME to be "a milestone in musical-drama history," and is often considered the show's most distinctive merit. The show's Director and critically acclaimed Choreographer Jerome Robbins brought home the Tony Award® for Best Choreography. The Music Man triumphed over West Side Story, winning the coveted Tony Award® for Best Musical, as well as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Conductor and Musical Director.
West Side Story went on to trounce eighteen other productions when it won the Tony Award® for Best Scenic Design by Oliver Smith. The production was also nominated for Best Costume Design by Irene Sharaff, and some of these costumes are currently on display at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts in the Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance exhibit.
West Side Story's mix of ballet and opera made it a dynamic production that has become an immortal story, enjoyed by many in numerous revivals, international productions, regional theatres, school productions, and opera companies. West Side Story's most recent Broadway revival, being produced this year proves that this story is a classic.
The musical has become a cornerstone of American popular culture, referenced in music, film, television, musicals, and other Broadway shows, more than half a century since its Broadway premiere. West Side Story has become a timeless story that Tina Gianoulis declares, "remains one of the strongest popular statements about troubled youth and devastating effects of poverty and racism."
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