West Side Story will not return to Broadway. West Side Story played its final performance at the Broadway Theatre on March 11, 2020.
“Something’s Coming…” Tony Award winner Ivo van Hove directed a brand new production of the timeless Bernstein/Laurents/Sondheim musical West Side Story, featuring - for the first time ever in the United States - all-new choreography by the internationally acclaimed Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
West Side Story changed the face of musical theatre forever when it debuted on the Great White Way in 1957 and, over six decades later, its score (featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim in his Broadway debut) still features some of the most iconic and best known standards in Broadway history, including the likes of “Maria,” “Tonight,” “America,” and “Somewhere.”
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Arthur Laurents’ book follows two star-crossed lovers in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City in the 1950s, where tensions are rising between two rival gangs of different ethnic backgrounds – the Jets and the Sharks. Tony is a former member of the Jets (an American gang) and best friend of its leader, Riff, whilst Maria is the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks (a gang of Puerto Rican heritage). Tony and Maria fall in love despite the backdrop of social issues, spurred on by racism and violence, and the romantically tragic story unfolds.
This production marked the fifth Broadway revival of the epochal tuner and delivered a unique West Side Story. Ever since its genesis and its legendary 1961 film adaptation, the musical has been synonymous with the choreography of Jerome Robbins (who also conceived and directed the Broadway premiere). Introducing American audiences to all-new choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is a bold move that hopefully re-invents the essence of West Side Story for a new generation of theatregoers. And speaking of re-invention, when it comes to theatrical innovation, the visionary director Ivo van Hove excels in his field. If his imaginative takes on the Arthur Miller classics A View from the Bridge and The Crucible or the 1976 Paddy Chayefsky film “Network” are anything to go by, then West Side Story is in for a makeover of a lifetime.
The lyric “There’s a place for us / Somewhere a place for us…” couldn’t resonate any louder than it does in the current American political and social climate. Yes, “Something’s Coming” for sure. Are you ready for it, America?
(Photos by Julieta Cervantes / Jan Versweyveld)