Photo courtesy of Way Off Broadway– Facebook
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West Side Story is a well known theatrical performance that brings Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to a modern, New York City street where the opportunities for two love birds are less than ideal. But did you know that Sondheim originally wanted the play to be the first to drop the “F-bomb” on Broadway and bring a controversial twist to the stage for its growing audience? Check out five other facts you may not have known about this classic love-story of the notorious West Side-
1. Shakespeare based the concept of “West Side Story” after reading a poem by Arthur Brooke titled The Tragic Historye of Romeus and Iuliet. This poem was actually created on the idea created by another poem by Roman poet, Ovid- titled Pyramus and Thisbe.
2. When the play was picked up for film adaption, the cast from Broadway was immediately rejected, claiming that they all looked too old to play “children” on screen. Maybe it’s true- the camera adds 10 years!
3. A scene in the movie, titled “Cool”, required actors to wear knee pads. Choreographer, Jerome Robbins, was known to push the actors to the limits during rehearsals and stage shows so much so that the actors burned their knee pads in his office after shooting to display their emotions towards the long hours of strenuous activity. Take that, Robbins!
4. Due to serious topics and risqué language, the original producer of West Side Story completely stopped raising money for the show early in the development process. The new director that came on board believed the show was well worth the fund raising. And luckily so- West Side Story became one of the most successful Broadway Musical in history.
5. On stage, Tony and Riff vow to make a lifelong promise of friendship and devotion to one another that includes the words “from sperm to worm.” To satisfy television censors, the film adaptation changed the line to “from birth to earth.” Would this still have been changed in today’s censorship guidelines? Food for thought.
(Facts courtesy of HERE)