Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

August 30, 2002 - Image 76

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The star-crossed lovers of "West Side Story" come to the stage of the Fox Theatre.


Special to the Jewish News





he classic urban musical
that has brought tears to
the eyes of audiences for 45
years was almost a tale of
the Jews versus the goyim, not the Jets
versus the Sharks.
Created by four of the greatest
geniuses of the musical theater — all
of them Jewish — West Side Story
comes to Detroit's Fox Theatre fo -r
eight performances Sept. 3-8; the last
five, Sept. 6-8, fall on Rosh Hashanah.
It was choreographer Jerome
Robbins who originally conceived the
show, as a musical version of William
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He,
composer Leonard Bernstein and
writer Arthur Laurents planned to
center their East Side Story around a
star-crossed romance between a Jewish'
boy and an Italian Catholic girl at the
Passover-Easter season.
But other commitments caused

them to put aside the project for six
years, and, by the time they returned
to it, they reasoned that the
Jewish/Christian angle had lost its
social relevance.
Instead, they would tell the story of
a native-born Polish boy and a Puerto
Rican girl newly arrived in America,
set against the backdrop of clashing
street gangs on New York's West Side,
a conflict that was dominating the
news at the time.
By then, the ever-busy Bernstein
decided against writing his own lyrics
and gave the job to a virtually
unknown lyricist named Stephen
Sondheim. Together, they developed
some of the theater's most melodic
songs, such as "Maria," "Tonight,"
"One Hand, One Heart," "I Feel
Pretty" and "Somewhere."

Jets Vs. Sharks

West Side Story is the haunting and
timeless tragedy of two lovers, Maria

although it lost the top Tony
To many,
and Tony, torn apart by vio-
Award to The Music Man in
"West Side
lence and discrimination in the
1957. Earlier this year,- the
Stag's" most
conflict between the
American Film Institute
"Americanized" gang known as
rated the 1961 film version
quality is its
the Jets and the Puerto Rican
as the third best love story in
the history of the movies.
In many ways, it's true to
The combination of love story,
Shakespeare's play, as the Verona of
gang warfare, poignant music and
Romeo and Juliet is transformed into
exciting dancing turned West Side
an urban underwprld of switchblades,
Story into a cult attraction during the
zip guns and racial hostilities. A tene-
1950s-'60s that youngsters of that
ment fire escape replaces a balcony. A
era have continued to perpetuate as
neighborhood druggist replaces Friar
Laurence. The Capulets' ball, where
As a youngster, David Mark, now
the young lovers first meet, becomes a
40, of Beverly Hills, Mich., memo-
high school-gym dance.
rized the words to all the songs,
After Maria and Tony meet and fall
typed a script and performed the
in love, violence erupts. In a rumble,
show with his friends in his back
Maria's brother, Bernardo, kills Tony's
friend, Riff, and Tony kills Bernardo
One of those friends, Steve
while trying to break up the fight. The
Schneider, 40, of West Bloomfield,
ending brings more tragedy.
West Side Story — the original starred has never missed a local live theater
or school performance of the musical
Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert — is
since that time, and continues to
repeatedly named among the best
Broadway musicals of the 20th century,
A PLACE FOR US on page 78

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan