West Side Story – Courtesy from the book
CAIRO – 26 September 2017: September 26, 1957 marks the opening of West Side Story, composed by Leonard Bernstein at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway.
It was written by the playwright Arthur Laurents, who, with the help of Robbins and the lyricist Stephen Sondheim, adapted “West Side Story” in 1949. They took the concept of the drama from William Shakespear’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The book revolves around a tale of love across the divide of two street gangs – one Latin and one white-ethnic.
The show in its original form never went into production and the idea was set aside for six years. The project was returned in 1955 thanks to the relationship between Stephen Sondheim and Broadway producer Hal Prince.
When it opened for the first time on September 26, 1957, it received a mix of critical responses, as some were discomforted by the racial conflict.
The musical story won only two Tony Awards – for choreography and set design.
It was made into a film in 1961, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, and was an enormous hit. The film won ten Academy Awards and revived the musical show that is still performed.