West Side Story The Musical Essay

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West Side Story The Musical
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West Side Story is one of the most influential musicals of all time. It's integration of dance and song into the plot was very innovative, because even though it had been done before, it had never been done this well. Jerome Robbins had thought of an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to a Broadway musical in 1949. He began discussions with librettist Arthur Laurents and composer Leonard Bernstein of a musical called East Side Story, with a plot concentrating on a Catholic girl and a Jewish boy. Other projects forced the work aside for six years, and when they returned to it, times had changed. Their idea became West Side Story, (another early title was Gangway!) and the Montague-Capulet
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The Latin-American rhythms gave Bernstein a good musical base to start from, and the whole score benefited from a jazzy Manhattan feel, which had been inherited from Gershwin, as well as Copland's romantic Americana feel. Robbins choice of a cast was very meticulously done. He wanted a real feeling that had never been reached before in Musical history. He wanted actors that were not well known, and that would get his theme of reality across to the audience. During rehearsals he actually separated the Jets and the Sharks and didn't allow them to socialize or even talk to one another. He also didn't allow the actress playing Anybodys to eat lunch with anyone at all. The show opened on Broadway on September 16, 1957. At first, the critics were not able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the achievement, but one critic, Brooks Atkinson wrote that the ballets "convey the things that Laurents is inhibited from saying because the characters are so inarticulate." This was done intentionally as a part of the realistic approach to the musical. By making the teenagers inarticulate, they were forced to communicate at an emotional level that almost lended itself to an impressionistic approach. One innovation of West Side Story was that there really wasn't a dance chorus. Each dancer was assigned a specific character to play, and all of them sang, danced, and spoke. Robbins knew that by
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