Shakespeare's classic macabre love story, Romeo and Juliet, is not the only thing to find a new home in Arthur Laurents' West Side Story. A revamped production of the Broadway play directed by David Saint removes some of the comedy of musical theatre and gives Puerto Rican characters a broadened identity and rapport with the audience by writing Spanish lines into the dialogue, giving it a more realistic and serious tone.
The newest incarnation of West Side Story—the musical story of two lovers separated by warring gangs, the Sharks and the Jets—will run at the Morrison Center Monday, March 25, through Thursday, March 28. Before coming to Boise, this production ran on Broadway for nearly two years—longer than any of the play's previous productions, including the original, which premiered in 1957.
This toughened-up telling of West Side Story introduces changes to dialogue that keep the show from feeling dated. And with the addition of songs and lines delivered in Spanish, New York City and the Latino culture the musical depicts are much better represented. It's not a full bilingual production, but even a hint of Spanish empowers the characters and changes the dynamic between the Sharks and the Jets, adding a new twist to a familiar story.