Monday, September 26, 2011

Broadway's West Side Story 54 Years Old

On September 26, 1957, the original Broadway production of West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre. West Side Story had a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, marking his Broadway debut. It was conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince. The musical is about star-crossed lovers from rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, on New York City's Upper West Side and is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. The original Broadway show starred Carol Lawrence as Maria, Larry Kert as Tony, Chita Rivera as Anita, Art Smith as Doc, Mickey Calin as Riff and Ken LeRoy as Bernardo.

Here's a clip of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert performing the song "Tonight" on The Ed Sullivan Show on November 2, 1958.

The video below captures a touching December 2007 rehearsal for a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids' fund-raising event. For their opening number, a tribute to 50 years of West Side Story, BC/EFA brought together 22 of the original cast members, including Carol Lawrence, Chita Rivera, Mickey Calin, Ken LeRoy and the original Jets.