OPERA AUSTRALIA & GWB ENTERTAINMENT PRESENT THE BB GROUP PRODUCTION OF
West Side Story
3–18 July, Crown Theatre
Crown Perth, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood WA 6100
24 July–23 August, Lyric Theatre
Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Corner Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane QLD 4101
The moment the curtain went up on the original West Side Story on Broadway, musical theatre changed forever.
Hailed as the greatest Broadway musical of all time, the genius of West Side Story's creators is unquestioned. The remarkable collaboration between Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins produced a timeless masterpiece.
Bernstein’s world-famous score features unforgettable songs, including ‘Maria’, ‘Tonight’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘America’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’, that have been universally adored for generations, proving this iconic dance musical remains one of the most poignant stage works of the twentieth century.
A modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, this tragic love story tells the tale of two young people whose happiness is destroyed by the hate of two enemy camps in New York City’s urban jungle. The Jets, sons of previous immigrants to America, battle the new arrivals from Puerto Rico, the Sharks, for domination of the streets.
Director Joey McKneely’s vibrant new staging will feature some of Australia’s most exciting young talent performing Jerome Robbins’ original ground-breaking choreography in two of Australia’s most iconic theatres.
The ideal fusion of dance, music, and theatre; experience this internationally celebrated production of West Side Story for a limited season only.
Location and time
Upper West Side, New York, 1950s, during the last days of summer.
The fully-danced prologue shows the tension built up between the jets and the Sharks- two rival gangs in New York’s Upper West Side. The Jets are boys who were born in America, but have Polish roots. The Sharks are Puerto Ricans who have immigrated to the US and are unwanted intruders.
Riff, the leader of the Jets, swears that he will chase the Sharks from “their” territory. Riff informs his gang that he will challenge Bernardo, the Sharks’ leader, to a fight for dominance at a dance taking place that evening. (When You’re a Jet)
Riff asks Tony, his best friend and co-founder of the Jets, to help him. Tony, who works at Doc’s drugstore, agrees to help even though he feels he has grown out of the gang and dreams of a better future. (Something’s Coming)
Maria works with her friend Anita at a bridal shop. Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, is sewing a dress for Maria to wear to the evening’s dance. Maria, who has only recently come to New York from Puerto Rico, sees this dance as the beginning of her life in America. She, like Tony, is full of hope. Her brother, Bernardo, comes in with Chino. Bernardo has chosen Chino as a husband for Maria.
In the tense atmosphere between the gangs at the gym dance, Tony and Maria meet for the first time. It is love at first sight. Bernardo notices this, angrily tears the two dancers apart and makes it perfectly clear that they belong to enemy camps. Bernardo tells Chino to take Maria home. Bernardo and Riff hold a council of war at Doc’s drugstore to negotiate the conditions of the fight that will decide everything.
After Tony finds Maria’s parents’ apartment without being noticed, he calls to her and she comes to the window. (Maria)
While he sings, Maria appears on the fire escape. They promise to love each other forever and plan to meet in the bridal shop the next day. (Tonight)
Anita and her friends meet on a rooftop where they exchange conflicting views of their lives in New York. (America)
The Sharks meet with the Jets. Tony suggests a fair fight without any weapons between the two best fighters from each group. Doc tries to persuade the jets not to get involved in a street fight. (Cool)
Next day, 5:30 pm
Maria finds out about the fight from Anita. When Tony comes to the shop as planned, Anita leaves the lovers alone. Maria begs Tony to stop the fight. He promises that he will. Alone between the bridal gowns, Tony and Maria enact their imaginary wedding. (One Hand, One Heart)
6:00 to 9:00 pm
Everyone is preparing for the fight that night. (Reprise of Tonight)
The Jets and the Sharks meet under a highway underpass in Manhattan. Tony shows up and makes a futile attempt to mediate at the last minute. The planned fist fight between Bernardo and Diesel degenerates into a battle with everyone fighting everyone, during which Bernardo stabs Riff. Tony, enraged over the death of his friend, kills Bernardo. Everyone barely manages to escape the police.
Maria is with her friends and is getting ready for her date with Tony. (I Feel Pretty)
Chino suddenly bursts into her room and tells her about the horrible result of the fight. Maria, alone again, prays. Tony climbs through her window, tries to explain what happened and begs her to forgive him. He says he will turn himself into the police. Maria forgives Tony and begs him to stay with her. The lovers sing about their desire to find a place where they could live peacefully without prejudice. (Somewhere)
In a small alley, Krupke the policeman questions the Jets about the murders. The gang makes jokes about him and the police. (Gee, Officer Krupke)
Anybodys, a girl who has wanted to be taken into the gang for a long time, reports that Chino has told the Sharks everything about Tony and Maria and has sworn to kill Tony. The Jets go to look for Tony.
When Anita comes to see Maria, Tony leaves through the window. He agrees to meet with Maria at Doc’s drugstore so they can escape together. Anita finds out Tony has been with Maria and accuses her of still being in love with her brother’s murderer. (A Boy Like That)
Maria admits to her friend that she still loves Tony. Then Anita understands that Maria loves Tony as much as she loved Bernardo. (I Have a Love)
Anita warns Maria that Chino has a weapon and plans to kill Tony. When Schrank, the police lieutenant, comes to question Maria, she asks Anita to go to the drugstore to warn Tony.
The Jets keep Anita from seeing Tony, who is hiding in the basement. The malicious tirade against Anita gets out of control and the Jets rape her. Doc rescues her. Humiliated and full of hate, she gives them a false message, asking Doc to tell Tony that Chino has killed Maria.
Doc gives Tony the awful news.
Wild with pain, Tony wanders through the streets looking for Chino. He suddenly sees Maria as she comes to Doc’s drugstore as planned, and rushes towards her. At this moment, Chino appears and shoots Tony from behind.
The Jets and Sharks come over as Maria kneels over Tony’s body. Maria takes Chino’s weapon but cannot take her own life. Despite her despair and rage, she is in control of herself and makes an ardent appeal to both gangs against the senselessness of fighting and murder. The Sharks and Jets carry Tony’s dead body off the stage together as if in procession – a gesture of hope for reconciliation.
West Side Story at Arts Centre Melbourne in 2019
Please note: this production contains strong language and adult themes; not recommended for children under the age of 12.
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 20 minutes, including one interval.
Performed in English