Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, who both garnered two of the ten Academy Awards the film took home, played Anita and her Shark gang leader boyfriend Bernardo, respectively, in the Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise-helmed movie. Both actors will be on hand in the Chelsea branch of B&N to sign copies of the special limited edition of "West Side Story" being released in a new DVD box set, April 1.
The movie musical was adapted from the stagework with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The legendary Jerome Robbins conceived, directed and choreographed the musical for its Sept. 26, 1957, opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. The classic work of American musical theatre reset William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to New York's west side in the summer of 1957 where rival gangs — the Jets and the Sharks — come between two star-crossed lovers.
"West Side Story" won the top prize of Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Among the other awards taken home that evening were for Best Sound, Music (Scoring), Film Editing, Art-Set Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, Supporting Actor and Actress, and Best Director for Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins — marking the first time ever the prize was shared.
The original stage show did not fair as well at the Tony Awards as the film did at the Oscars. Robbins garnered an award for Best Choreography and Oliver Smith won for Scenic Design. The Meredith Willson musical The Music Man overshadowed the work, winning Best Musical.
The DVD will include the original MGM movie musical on one disc — with an option to play the 152-minute film with or without an intermission — and special features on another. The second disc will include an hour-long documentary, "West Side Memories," which contains Natalie Wood's original vocal recordings as well as new interviews with cast and Robert Wise and Stephen Sondheim. Other features include, the original film intermission music, a storyboard-to-film comparison, original trailers and behind-the-scenes photos, production design and storyboard galleries. A collectible scrapbook in the DVD contains an introduction by screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a full copy of the film script, a reproduction of the lobby brochure, behind-the-scenes memos and film reviews from 1961. To have your "West Side Story" DVD signed by Moreno and Chakiris, visit the Barnes and Noble location at 675 Sixth Ave (at 22 Street) at 6:30 PM.