Laurents-Directed West Side Story to Bow at the National in DC Prior to Broadway

News   Laurents-Directed West Side Story to Bow at the National in DC Prior to Broadway
A revival of the classic American musical West Side Story — directed by its librettist, Arthur Laurents — will make its premiere at The National Theatre in Washington, DC, in December before arriving on Broadway in 2009.
Arthur Laurents
Arthur Laurents Photo by Aubrey Reuben

According to a casting notice, the eagerly awaited revival will play the DC venue Dec. 2, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009. A Broadway run at a theatre-to-be-announced is scheduled to commence in early February 2009. The production will also feature Jerome Robbins' original choreography, re-created by Joey McKneely (Tony nominee for The Life and Smokey Joe's Café). Patrick Vaccariello will be the production's musical director.

Kevin McCollum, James Nederlander, Jr. and Jeffrey Seller are producing the revival of West Side Story.

About the revival, Laurents had previously said it would be "radically different from any production ever done and contemporary to boot."

West Side Story features a score by Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Laurents. The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre Sept. 26, 1957. It played 732 performances before closing June 27, 1959. Conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the original cast included Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria and Chita Rivera as Anita. The classic Bernstein-Sondheim score boasts such tunes as "Tonight," "America," "Maria," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere."

Subsequent revivals were presented at the Winter Garden Theatre (1960), City Center (1964) and the Minskoff Theatre (1980). The latter featured Josie de Guzman as Maria, Debbie Allen as Anita and Ken Marshall as Tony. Arthur Laurents, the librettist for West Side Story; Hallelujah, Baby!; Anyone Can Whistle; and Gypsy, began writing for the theatre more than 50 years ago with the play Home of the Brave. Among his other works are The Time of the Cuckoo, Jolson Sings Again and 2 Lives. Laurents received a Best Director Tony Award for the original production of La Cage aux Folles. He also directed the Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly revivals of Gypsy as well as Invitation to a March, I Can Get it for You Wholesale and Anyone Can Whistle. Laurents' candid autobiography, published a few years back, is titled "Original Story By."

Director and librettist Laurents is currently represented on Broadway with the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy, which is currently in previews at the St. James Theatre.

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