West Side Story Sin Queso

Looks like In the Heights made Broadway stand up and take notice of the Latino population's theatergoing potential--and everyone else's enthusiasm for Latino dance/music flavor. Yesterday's announcement that West Side Story is headed for a 2009 revival and considerable reworking is another obvious step toward continued diversification of the Great White Way. I'm not going to speculate about whether Latin culture, as depicted through a Sondheim filter, will manage to make its way to the forefront of this new production, but you can bet a whole lot of Latino actors will round out the cast, and as a result, will most likely deepen the show's conflict and resonance.

We are to expect a real departure from traditional mountings of the work, with Spanish additions to the songs and text. Arthur Laurents, still smoking from his Gypsy success, is sure to hit big again with this timely resurrection. Having him at the helm will be mighty thrilling, since he literally wrote the book on Maria and Tony, and he adds to the excitement with these cryptic comments:

"This show will be radically different from any other production of West Side Story ever done. The musical theatre and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be."

Things have changed even since a lean, mean John Leguizamo brought contemporary style to the filmed Romeo + Juliet 12 years ago, and I'm looking forward to a Broadway production not afraid to sharpen its knives, and let its chollos be the bad-asses they were always meant to be. 

July 17, 2008 8:43 AM |
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