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‘West Side Story’ comes to Sacramento

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From page B9 | January 27, 2012 |

The tour of the smash hit Broadway revival of “West Side Story” is coming to Sacramento. “West Side Story” is playing at the Sacramento Community Center Theater through Sunday, Jan. 29.

Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents’ Broadway direction will be recreated for the tour by David Saint, the associate director on Broadway. The original Jerome Robbins choreography is reproduced by Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely (“The Boy from Oz,” “The Life”).

Tickets for “West Side Story” range from $19 to $86 and are available by calling 916-557-1999 or 916-808-5181, or online at Tickets.com. Tickets are also available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion box office, 1419 H St. in Sacramento, and at the Convention Center box office, 1301 L St. in Sacramento.

Evening performances are Jan. 24 through Jan. 28, at 8 p.m.; matinée performances are Thursday, Jan. 26, Saturday, Jan. 28, and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. Broadway Sacramento is presented by California Musical Theatre and sponsored by Wells Fargo.

The new Broadway cast album of “West Side Story” won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album on Jan. 31, 2010. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theater as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”

“West Side Story” features scenic designs by James Youmans (“Gypsy”), costumes by Tony Award nominee David C. Woolard (“The Farnsworth Invention,” “The Who’s Tommy”), lighting by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (“Gypsy,” “Jersey Boys”), sound design by Tony Award nominee Dan Moses Schreier (“Gypsy,” “A Catered Affair”) and hair by Mark Adam Rampmeyer (“The Farnsworth Invention”).

“West Side Story” is written by three theatrical luminaries: two-time Tony Award winner Arthur Laurents (book) and multiple Tony and Grammy Award winners Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) in his Broadway debut.

“West Side Story” is produced by Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, Jeffrey Seller with Terry Allen Kramer, Sander Jacobs, Roy Furman/Jill Furman Willis, Robyn Goodman/Walt Grossman, Hal Luftig, Roy Miller and Broadway Across America.

“West Side Story” had a long journey to Broadway. Six years elapsed between Jerome Robbins’s first idea of a modern musical adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” and its actual Broadway debut in 1957.

Originally, the action of the musical was to take place on New York’s Lower East Side with tensions flaring between Jews and Catholics during the Passover and Easter holidays. The original setting left the authors uninspired and the project was put on hold. Years later, when Arthur Laurents proposed changing the basis of conflict from religion to race, the show gained creative momentum and “West Side Story” was born.

Originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, “West side Story” opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Sept. 26, 1957 and garnered passionate reactions from critics and audiences alike. The piece has often been credited with changing the entire course of the American musical theatre.

Applauding the creators’ innovation in dance and musical style, Time Magazine exclaimed “Robbins’ energetic choreography and Bernstein’s grand score accentuate the satiric, hard-edged lyrics of Sondheim and Laurents’ capture of the angry voice of urban youth.”The New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson described the show as “profoundly moving; an incandescent piece of work where theatre people, engrossed in an original project, are all in top form.”

The original production starred Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria, Chita Rivera as Anita, and won six Tony Award nominations including Best Musical of 1957. Jerome Robbins won the award for his groundbreaking choreography and Oliver Smith took home the prize for Best Scenic Design. Also nominated were Carol Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, Max Goberman for Best Musical Director and Irene Sharaff for Best Costume Design. “West Side Story” ran for 732 performances before launching national and international tours and a successful mounting at London’s Majesty Theatre in 1958.

The first revival of the musical opened on April 8, 1964 at New York City Center by the New York City Center Light Opera Company. The production closed on May 3, 1964 after a limited engagement of 31 performances. The City Center production was staged by Gerald Freedman based on Robbins’ original concept. A Broadway revival opened at the Minskoff Theatre on Feb. 14, 1980 directed and choreographed by Robbins with the assistance of Tom Abbott and Lee Becker Theodore. The revival was nominated for a 1980 Tony Award for Best Revival as well as nods for Debbie Allen as Anita and Josie de Guzman as Maria.

The revival of “West Side Story” on which this tour is based began previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, opened to critical acclaim breaking box office records on Thursday, March 19, 2009, recouped its $14 million investment after running only 30 weeks. The musical played 27 previews and 748 regular performances, making it the longest-running production of the groundbreaking musical in Broadway history.

An exciting and innovative motion picture version, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, was released in 1961 and starred Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony and Rita Moreno as Anita. The film also received wide praise from critics, winning 10 Academy Awards out of its 11 nominated categories (including Best Picture) as well as a special award for Robbins. The film’s soundtrack grossed more than any other album before it.

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