50th Anniversary of “West Side Story” revival arrives on Broadway 2 years late…love duets are “just like Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy”
March 24 (Bloomberg) — The 50th anniversary production of “West Side Story” will arrive on Broadway just in time — for year 52. Credit Arthur Laurents for both the revival of the landmark show and the tardy party.
“It wasn’t feasible,” said Laurents, who wrote the book for the show, for which Leonard Bernstein composed the score and Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics.
It’s shocking that this 1957 masterwork’s golden anniversary passed without so much as a whimper, let alone a rumble, on Broadway….
“They’re not adorable street kids,” Laurents said. “They’re killers, each and every one of them. They’re vicious and they have to be played that way.”
In his production, he says, he’ll also emphasize “the real difference between the Puerto Ricans and so-called Americans, not just what color they’re wearing,” Laurents said. “Look at all this immigration stuff now — if that isn’t about race, I don’t know what is. It’s a national issue.”
As for the love story of Tony and Maria, Laurents wants hot- blooded passion, not sanitized stick figures.
``When they sing ‘Tonight,’ it’s like Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy,” Laurents said. “It’s hard for them to sing because they’re so sexually involved. They’re all over each other.”