Embracing Jerome Robbins, Jerry Mitchell Will Direct and Choreograph West Side Story for Bway

News   Embracing Jerome Robbins, Jerry Mitchell Will Direct and Choreograph West Side Story for Bway Jerry Mitchell said he'll be directing and choreographing the next Broadway revival of West Side Story, marking his directorial debut on the Great White Way.
Jerry Mitchell, choreographer of the planned West Side StoryBroadway revival.
Jerry Mitchell, choreographer of the planned West Side StoryBroadway revival.

The Tony Award-nominated choreographer of The Full Monty, Hairspray, Gypsy and the dawning Never Gonna Dance said he'll be using Jerome Robbins' choreography in what he calls "the new version" of the show.

The 43-year-old choreographer is no stranger to the Arthur Laurents-Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical that jolted the American theatre in 1957. "I've done five," he said. "With his choreography, without his, with my own — I've done it a lot."

Is there a mandate from the Robbins estate that the Robbins choreography must be used if it's a Broadway run?

"The mandate is, I want to use his choreography!" Mitchell said. "I am his fan and I am also his cheerleader. I think that choreography should be seen by many, many generations to come. If there's anything else I can do to help make that happen, I'm there."

The target date is spring 2005, Mitchell said, likely with an out-of-town tryout. *

Playbill On-Line previously reported Maria, Tony, Anita, Bernardo, Riff and the rest of the gang of West Side Story would be brought back to Broadway by the groundbreaking producers of Rent and La Bohème.

Producer Kevin McCollum previously confirmed to Playbill On-Line that he and producing partner Jeffrey Seller were exploring a Broadway revival of the Manhattan-set musical inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

No official announcement of production details has been made.

*

West Side Story showed an audience something new in 1957: A serious-minded, modern-day, tuneful show set in the gritty streets of Manhattan's West Side (not far from where Lincoln Center now sits) with book, song and dance integrated to high art. The show was conceived and directed by Jerome Robbins, with choreography — now famous, partly because of the Academy Award-winning 1961 film version — by Robbins and Peter Gennaro. Robbins won a 1958 Tony Award for his choreography.

The show initially played 734 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre and had a return engagement in 1960 that lasted 249 performances. It was revived in 1968 at the New York State Theater (89 performances) and in 1980 at the Minskoff Theatre (333 performances).

Songs in the score by Sondheim (lyrics) and Bernstein (music) include "America," "I Feel Pretty," "Cool," "Gee, Officer Krupke!," "Somewhere," "Maria," "Somehing's Coming," "Tonight," "One Hand, One Heart," "Jet Song," "A Boy Like That" and "Tonight (Quintet)."

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