Finally, After 54 Years…

When I was about 11 or 12 (1962 or 1963), I saw the film version of West Side Story. The film was preceded by a Broadway stage production of the same name in 1957 and is based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Instead of two rival noble families in Verona, the setting is two rival teen gangs in New York. One gang is “American” and the other is Puerto Rican. Tony, an inactive member of the American gang, is “Romeo” while Maria, the sister of the Puerto Rican gang’s leader, is “Juliet.”

The film won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. There have been no “remakes’ of the film, which I never saw again.

Friday night, some 54 years after seeing the film, I finally saw a stage production of West Side Story. The only song I remembered from the movie was “Tonight” but during the play I recognized some (but not all) of the other songs, such as “I Feel Pretty” and “America.”

Community theater can be iffy, especially in a small town. But the leads were excellent. Tony was performed by a high school senior. Even though he was only 18, he enumciated well and had a great voice. But Maria easily stood out. She has previously played Christine, the female lead in Phantom, so you know she has an excellent voice. (The program did not give an clues about her age but I think it is late 20’s or early 30’s.)

All performances sold out but I was able to get sixth row seats. They were on the side, but they were the first two seats so it was almost like being at the end of the sixth row center and we had excellent views.

If you’ve never seen West Side Story, try to find the film on DVD, NetFlix, etc. But try to see a stage production, which is different from a film and usually better.



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