West Side Story:
Even 54 years after it first debuted on Broadway, one of the world's most beloved musicals, West Side Story is still going strong with brand new tour dates in 2013. While the musical has become a high school drama department standard in recent years, this most recent tour captures the high standard of singing and dancing that made it famous. The unforgettable songs penned by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim have stood the test of time on Broadway and continue to delight audiences.
The concept was developed by Jerome Robbins in 1949, who sought to produce a musical that modernized the classic Shakespeare tale, Romeo and Juliet. Originally, the musical focused on the anti-semitism between an Italian American Catholic family and a Jewish family, before portraying recently developed teen gang violence and racial divisions in New York. Eight years later, West Side Story premiered on Broadway to rave reviews by audiences and critics, the latter noting how musical theatre had been changed forever. The musical opened for the first time on London's West End in 1958 and has been revived on Broadway a few times over the years.
West Side Story chronicles the turf war between the Polish Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks. Riff, the leader of the Jet's, proposes organizing a rumble with the Sharks to end things once and for all, and invites his friend and ex-Jet Tony along to a neighborhood dance where the proposal will be made. However, when Tony arrives at the dance, he falls madly in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks' leader, Bernardo. Despite being on opposite sides of an escalating feud, the two fall even more in love until the night of the rumble. Tony, attempting to stop the fight, accidentally allows Riff to be killed by Bernardo, and Tony in turn kills Bernardo. From there, it's a race against time for Tony and Maria, as they attempt to flee to the country before the Sharks can exact their revenge.