Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
West Side Story
West Side Story is a musical written by Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music), and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics), and was originally produced, choreographed, and directed by Jerome Robbins. West Side Story debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 1957 and played 732 performances before going on tour - a very successful run for the time. In 1961, it was made into a motion picture and released on October 18 by United Artists, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, winning ten Motion Picture Academy Awards including Best Picture.
The story line is a reworking of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with minor variations, set among American and Puerto Rican street gangs in New York City's Upper West Side. Tony and Maria fall in love, despite the fact that they are associated with rival gangs - Tony with the Jets, and Puerto Rican-born Maria with the Sharks. The Sharks are led by Maria's brother, Bernardo, and the Jets by Tony's best friend, Riff. When the gangs arrange a "rumble", Maria pleads with Tony to prevent the fighting, but when Bernardo unintentionally stabs Riff to death, Tony, in a rage, kills Bernardo. He and Maria plan to run away together. Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita, agrees to help, but when she is taunted by the Jets, she invents a story that Maria has been killed by Chino, the man she was supposed to marry. Tony runs out into the street, where he is shot by Chino; in the aftermath of his death, Maria is able to finally bring all the young people together.
The dark theme, sophisticated music, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in English language musical theatre, which had previously (with rare exceptions) tended toward light and fluffy themes. West Side Story is still produced frequently by local theatres and is occasionally produced by classical opera companies.
Bernstein's score for the musical has been extremely popular. Some of the songs include "Something's Coming," "Maria," "America," "Somewhere," "Tonight," "Gee, Officer Krupke," "I Feel Pretty," "One Hand, One Heart," and "Cool."
In 1984, Bernstein decided to re-record the musical, conducting his own music for the first time. Generally known as the "operatic version" of West Side Story, it stars Kiri Te Kanawa as Maria, Josť Carreras as Tony, Tatiana Troyanos as Anita, Kurt Ollman as Riff, and Marilyn Horne who sings "Somewhere" as an anonymous character. It won a Grammy award in 1985.
The film was #41 on American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies and #3 on its 100 Years, 100 Passions, and has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. On AFI's 100 years, 100 songs, "Tonight" was #59, "America" was #35, and "Somewhere" was #20.
|The Jets||The Sharks|
Riff, The Leader
Bernardo, The Leader
|Their Girls||Their Girls|
Academy Award wins and nominations for the movie
- Academy Award for Best Picture - Robert Wise, producer
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor - George Chakiris
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress - Rita Moreno
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction- Set Decoration, Color - Victor A. Gangelin , and Boris Leven
- Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color - Daniel L. Fapp
- Academy Award for Costume Design, Color - Irene Sharaff
- Academy Award for Directing - Jerome Robbins, and Robert Wise
- Academy Award for Film Editing - Thomas Stanford
- Academy Award for Original Music Score, of a Musical Picture - Saul Chaplin, Johnny Green , Irwin Kostal , and Sid Ramin
- Academy Award for Sound - Fred Hynes (Todd-AO SSD), and Gordon Sawyer (Samuel Goldwyn SSD)
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Ernest Lehman
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