West Side Story

West Side Story is an American musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical’s plot is based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The original Broadway production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957 to positive reviews. The production was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince and starred Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria and Chita Rivera as Anita. The production ran for 732 performances before touring and then returning to the Winter Garden Theatre in 1960 for another 253 performances.

Set in New York City in the mid-1950s, the musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The members of the Sharks are first-generation Americans from Puerto Rico taunted by the Jets, a working-class white group who consider themselves the true Americans. The young protagonist, Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre.

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