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1001 Stories Collection

West Side Story

West side story e1537822876462
Added on 09th March 2020

Directed by Jerome Robbins
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
First performed 1957, Winter Garden Theatre, New York, USA

Middle East Adventure and opportunity

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

A classic musical, great songs, the story told in dance as well as music, an iconic love story and a plea for tolerance and reconciliation. West Side Story is still being performed today in theatres across the world.

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 March 2020

Directed by Jerome Robbins
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
First performed 1957, Winter Garden Theatre, New York, USA

Middle East Adventure and opportunity