Running since February 2009 The great American musical returns to Broadway in a starkly dramatic production that Variety calls "a brilliant evocation of its period and a timeless tragedy." Closes January 2nd.
The Broadway production of West Side Story closed January 2, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
Broadway critics and insiders were split on this revival. Directed by Arthur Laurents (who collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins to transport Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to Manhattan's violent Upper West Side more than 50 years ago), it is darker than most predecessors, and attempts to heighten the verisimilitude by having some characters speak and sing in Spanish.
John Simon of Bloomberg News said it "will prove by far the best revival any of us will get in our lifetime," while Elysa Gardner of USA Today said the "attempts to be inclusive and grittily realistic…make the show seem no fresher, only a tiny bit less magical."
All agreed, however, that the large cast and orchestra (37 on stage and 30 in the pit) perform Bernstein’s glorious music and Robbins’ balletic dances (which have become as much a part of the show as the words and music) beautifully. Few things are as downright wonderful as a great Broadway musical, and in this production, the thrills and chills are abundant, and the tears well-earned.
One suggestion – scan the lyrics to "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That" before the show. Both are performed completely in Spanish, and while the Playbill includes the lyrics, you’ll have a hard time reading in the dark and watching the show simultaneously.
Here's a 5-minute video of from the 2009 Tony Awards:
The much-anticipated rethinking of "West Side Story" is neither revelation nor vandalism. It is still "West Side Story," with those jazzy, jagged, gloriously (and shamelessly) sentimental Leonard Bernstein songs and (most of) Stephen Sondheim's swaggering, dazzling lyrics. In other words, it's still a wonderful show.
The production is under the direction of Arthur Laurents, the man responsible for the musical's original book. He's done some tweaking of the star-crossed tale of Tony and Maria, but it still seems a little sketchy and slow, even with some surprising innovations. And its emotional impact is oddly muted. Not so those Robbins' dances, which grab you right from the show's Prologue and then explode periodically throughout the evening.
The Laurents-Bernstein-Sondheim-Robbins landmark musical returns in an important production to Broadway's Palace Theatre, tweaked and directed by its indomitable 91-year-old librettist, Arthur Laurents. Whether you've seen several mountings of it or none, you will want to catch this one. Next to the original production, this one, over half a century later, will prove by far the best revival any of us will get in our lifetime. See it and cherish it.
New York Daily News
Forget the Sharks' and Jets' bad boys. It's the girls who rule in this uneven new Broadway production of "West Side Story," which manages only intermittently to take us "somewhere" special. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's haunting score is played by a 30-piece orchestra. These elements are the stars of the show, and enough to make this revival something good.
New York Post
[Director Laurents has] created a new imbalance that lessens the overall dramatic impact. This is painfully embodied by the central lovers, Tony and Maria. What do we remember of this production, then? Precisely what the original was about: the singing and the dancing. "West Side Story" had not been seen on Broadway in almost three decades. For a new generation to discover it live is almost good enough.
New York Times
In the production that opened Thursday night at the Palace Theater, which lovingly replicates Mr. Robbins's balletic choreography, what prevails is a tenderhearted awareness of the naked vulnerability of being young and trapped in an urban jungle. This "West Side Story" is most enthralling when Tony and Maria cross the ethnic divide to pursue the pipe dream of happiness together.
It's certainly not hard to root for Matt Cavenaugh's handsome, likable Tony, or the angelic but warmly coquettish Maria of Josefina Scaglione. Karen Olivo's witty, fiery Anita is another asset; she may not be the best dancer to ever tackle the role, but Joey McKneely's reproduction of Jerome Robbins' choreography lets her shine and the others soar. The irony is that Laurents' attempts to be inclusive and grittily realistic - the final scene in particular suffers for his insistence on technical accuracy - make the show seem no fresher, only a tiny bit less magical.
It's rewarding to report that after nearly three decades' absence from Broadway, this masterwork has been given the revival it deserves. Under the knowing direction of Arthur Laurents, the 1957 show remains both a brilliant evocation of its period and a timeless tragedy of disharmony and hate.
The darkening touches that librettist-director Arthur Laurents has added seem natural rather than intrusive. With a story and score so widely familiar, putting much of the Boricuan song and speech into Spanish adds a salsa flavor instead of confusion. Injecting an old romantic tale with street smarts doesn't make it a documentary; romance is its basic purpose. When the panther-leap syncopations of Leonard Bernstein's score grab you, and the sudden lunges of Robbins's dancers rivet you, romance doesn't turn socio-analytical; it lives refreshed.
Wall Street Journal
Mr. Laurents's down-and-dirty approach might have been made to work if he'd scrapped Robbins's dances and had the whole show rechoreographed from scratch. Even so, he would have had to reckon with the blandness of his stars. No amount of tough-guy retouching can make "West Side Story" into anything other than what it is, a starry-eyed group portrait of a bunch of basically nice kids who find themselves caught up in an unforgiving world of violence and hate. To pretend otherwise, as this staging mostly does, is to get wrong what Mr. Laurents and his collaborators got so gloriously right a half-century ago.
December 7, 2010
The story is better understood by older children.The acting,singing,costumes,all excellent.A timeless classic spin off of Romeo & Juliet.A lot of Spanish dialect, but still OK to follow.
November 26, 2010
Everyone was so kind and helpful! The show was awesome! There was a lot of dancing and we enjoyed it very much. There was also a bit of spanish in both the songs and dialogue, but we believe it made it more realistic.
November 15, 2010
Having seen other productions of West Side Story over the years, this was one of the finest. Not to be missed. This time I took the kids/grandchildren who loved it, and walked away donning T-shirts and humming the songs.
All in all, a great musical to be experienced again and again. The show is timeless and brought back wonderful memories. The dancing superb.
Seats excellent as always!