By Kenneth Jones
02 Apr 2009
The new acclaimed production, directed by the 1957 musical's librettist, Arthur Laurents, opened at the Palace Theatre March 19 to solid reviews. Laurents' much-reported concept for the production has the Latino characters often speaking and singing in Spanish. "A Boy Like That" and "I Feel Pretty" are both sung in Spanish (as is part of the "Tonight" quintet), with translations by Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights). "America" remains in English to help maintain the punchlines that fuel the number.
The Spanish-language songs will be preserved on the single-disc recording.
West Side Story has music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, whose songs for the show are some of the best-known in musical theatre history: "Tonight," "Somewhere," "Maria," "Something's Coming" and more.
"To have the opportunity to produce the new Broadway cast recording of the great American classic West Side Story is truly an honor for Sony Masterworks," stated Alex Miller, general manager and senior vice president of Sony Masterworks. "That this revival is so relevant, powerful and electrifying today, after more than half a century, only confirms the greatness of West Side Story, which has been part of our label's history since 1957. The new production and recording, which features a full 30-piece orchestra performing the original orchestrations, will introduce a new generation to the show, and we are proud to be part of it."
In addition to the new Broadway Cast Recording, Masterworks Broadway, a subsidiary of Sony Masterworks, owns both the Original Broadway Cast and Original Motion Picture Soundtrack recordings of West Side Story, as well major titles in the Bernstein and Sondheim catalogs.
The 2009 West Side Story opening followed a pre-Broadway engagement at the National Theatre in Washington, DC, where the musical made its original pre-Broadway world premiere in 1957.
The cast is headed by Matt Cavenaugh (A Catered Affair, Grey Gardens) as Tony, Karen Olivo (In the Heights) as Anita, Cody Green (Movin' Out) as Riff and George Akram ("Stuck on You") as Bernardo. Twenty-one-year-old Argentinean actress Josefina Scaglione, who created the role of Amber Von Tussle in the Argentinean production of Hairspray, co-stars as Maria.
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Joey McKneely recreates the work of choreographer Jerome Robbins, who conceived the show.
"West Side Story transports the achingly beautiful tale of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the turbulent streets of the Upper West Side in 1950's New York City," according to the producers. "Two star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, find themselves caught between the rival street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds, the 'Jets' and the 'Sharks.' Their struggle to exist together in a world of violence, hate and prejudice is one of the most heart-breaking, relevant and innovative musical masterpieces of our time."
Its landmark status has to do with its serious subject matter, and its sophisticated integration of dance, song and book.
West Side Story is produced on Broadway by Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, Jeffrey Seller with Terry Allen Kramer, Sander Jacobs, Freddy DeMann, Roy Furman, Robyn Goodman/Walter Grossman, Hal Luftig, Roy Miller and Broadway Across America.