Monday, September 6, 2010

West Side Story

We got to see one Broadway musical while in New York. We only had enough time for one, so I poured over the offerings trying to choose just the right show. There were a couple of newer ones that looked interesting, like Memphis or Promises, Promises. But when I saw that the classic West Side Story was playing...right across the street from our hotel...and the tickets were less expensive than many other shows, well, it made the choice easy.

This is embarrassing for a music major to admit, but I had never seen West Side Story. I knew a lot of the songs and a little of the story, but I had no idea how it ended. Frankly, I found the complete story to be a bit shocking. I loved it, but it didn't go the direction I thought it was going.

Spoiler: if you've never seen WSS and might want to one day stop reading here.

I was surprised when Maria was so forgiving of her true love Tony (whom she had known about 24 hours) when he killed her brother. That's a little hard to believe. And I also found the lyrics of "Gee, Officer Krupke" to be pretty edgy for being written in the 1950's. Overall, I was in awe (as I always am) of the brilliant minds that create the music and lyrics for musicals like this. Their talent is overwhelming. One neat fact we read about in the program (and I am lifting it from wikipedia instead of trying to put it into my own words): Language posed a problem; four-letter curse words were uncommon in the theatre at the time, and slang expressions were avoided for fear they would be dated by the time the production opened. Laurents ultimately invented what sounded like real street talk but actually wasn't: "cut the frabba-jabba", for example.

Isn't that brilliant to create a language that sounds convincing but won't become dated as the decades roll by?

It was so much fun to get all dressed up and see West Side Story on Broadway. Now I have finally seen this classic (which is set in New York, another perfect thing about it).

1 comment:

Worldwide said...