Considered Broadway’s greatest dance musical, “West Side Story” comes to Manila for a limited three-week season as part of a worldwide tour, following sold-out presentations around the world, including Paris, London, Berlin and Sydney.
Boasting of a young all-American cast, many of whom come direct from Broadway, the dance musical premieres on August 10 at The Theater at Solaire, Parañaque City.
“West Side Story” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s tragic love story, “Romeo and Juliet,” set in 1950s New York amid the vicious rivalry of teenage gangs—the Jets and the Sharks. Among them, Tony, a Jet, and Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks, fall in love.
The air vibrates with the rhythms of mambo, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz as members of the opposite sides are sons of previous immigrants to America and new arrivals from Puerto Rico, respectively.
At its 1957 Broadway premiere, the musical redefined an entire genre in terms of both choreography and score. The genius of its four creators—Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim—produced a piece whose great artistic quality remains unquestioned to this day.
The now-famous score by Leonard Bernstein braved uncharted waters at the time it was written, and combines influences from American jazz with classical and Latin American music to create a sublime work of art.
Stephen Sondheim, then only an unknown young musician and lyricist who would later rise to great musical heights with works such as “Gypsy,” “Sweeny Todd” and “Into The Woods,” managed to condense the painful process of coming-of-age, passionate love and fateful conflict into concise and punchy song lyrics, creating a legacy of classic songs such as “Maria,” “Tonight,” “Somewhere,” “America” and “I Feel Pretty.”
Jerome Robbins’ original choreography has been recreated by director and choreographer Joey McKneely, a former pupil of Jerome Robbins. Musical supervisor is the renowned conductor Donald Chan, who studied under Bernstein himself, and who leads a live orchestra of 20 musicians.
The movie version, released in 1961, went on to win an incredible 10 Oscars including Best Picture and further cemented the reputation of this undoubted masterpiece.
It has been produced three times on Broadway, twice in London’s West End, and enjoyed numerous US, UK and international tours over the last 60 years.
The Manila season is presented by Globe Live.