Premier: September 26, 1957 Theater: Winter Garden Theater Music by: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim Book by: Arthur Laurents Directed by: Jerome Robbins Choreography by: Jerome Robbins Produced by: Robert Griffith and Harold S. Prince
- "Something's Coming" "Maria" "Tonight" "America" "I Feel Pretty" "Somewhere"
Following Shakespeare’s model, the team constructed a story of star-crossed lovers caught between rival gangs — this time Puerto Ricans (Sharks) and white ethnics (Jets) on New York City’s Upper West Side. Tony (former leader of the Jets) falls in love with Maria (sister of the leader of the Sharks) at a high school dance, despite the tragic impossibility of their situation. When, in a gang rumble, he impetuously kills Maria’s brother, Bernardo, while defending his own friend, he sets the romance on an inevitably fatal course.
The transposition from Renaissance Verona to West 74th Street was accomplished seamlessly, and the entire stage exploded with Robbins’ athletic choreography. Reviews for “West Side Story” were generally positive, but the show’s tragic demeanor — two deaths at the end of the first act, one at the end of the show — was off-putting to some. That year, the show lost all of the major Tony Awards® to the far more traditional “The Music Man.”