Have you ever heard about the love story of Romeo and Juliet? The show is a bit different from the sensational plot of the original work; love story is still the main focus and it also emphasized on social issues and tough life at the background of war. .
West Side Story is the greatest and memorable story at that time. The story was encouraged by Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet. The setting is based on the Upper west side of New York City in the 1950s, a blue-collar neighbourhood. (Blue collar refers to working- class, people usually perform manual labour.)
While in the early 1960s, many neighbourhoods in this area were cleaned in the city renewal project for Lincoln Centre (Miller, 2017). This project exactly changed the character of the neighbourhood. Also, the US society was still recovering from the turmoil of World War II, and people were pursuing for stability and peace.
The story developed on the conflicts between two teen street gangs, Jets and Sharks which are from different ethnicity. Members of Sharks are from Puerto Rico, they were jeered at by the jets, who are the white. The hero, Tony, was the former member of the Jets and he was also the best friend of the gang leader, Riff. However, Tony fell in love with the sister of Sharks’ leader.
The dark storyline was embellished with a series of sophisticated music to depict how this couple bravely overcome the obstacle of their background and tried to gain approval from others. However, they totally failed. A naïve and innocent love was torn between the two different cultural backgrounds and set against the hatred and ever-changing city, New York (Fisher, 2019). It also strongly makes points in the description of troubled teenagers and the devastating effects of poverty and racial discrimination.
I really enjoy watching musical shows; it would somehow reflect the actual situation as reflected in the stage. Such for the racial issue in the US, it is quite a cliché theme but it is not outdated until today. Even though I am Asian and I have never lived in western countries for a long time, I still can immerse myself in the scene. This is the magical glamour of the musical show.
Click it and read other reviews on West Side Story: https://www.newcitystage.com/2019/05/13/new-side-same-story-a-review-of-west-side-story-at-lyric-opera-of-chicago/
Below is a highlight part of West Side Story, click it and take a look!
Fisher, M. (2019). West Side Story review – hip-swinging, skirt-twirling love story gets gritty. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/nov/29/west-side-story-review-curve-leciester [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
Miller, G. (2017). Maps Show How Tearing Down City Slums Displaced Thousands.
Nationalgeographic.com. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/12/urban-renewal-projects-maps-united-states/. [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
Playbill (2011). Highlights of “West Side Story" on Broadway.
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoE5Y6peV9E [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].