West Side Story Message Board

xlottiex posts a message on 4/14/2008 5:36:22 AM Hi I'm doin a performance of West Side Story at my school, my drama teacher chose me to be Maria, I'm really worried about Act II - scene 1, on page 47 where I have to beat on Tony's chest shouting "killer!", i'm afraid that I will be too self conscious and mess it up completely. Does anyone have any tips that could help? Lottie
independentminded posts a message on 4/12/2008 9:05:22 AM Another re-appearance of the great, golden oldie-but-goody classic film, West Side Story occurred--at the Albany Palace Theatre, in Albany, NY. Determined to see this great film on the great big screen for the first time this year, I took the three-hour drive out to Albany, NY, where I stayed in a nice hotel, explored the city for a bit, and then saw the film West Side Story at the Palace Theatre nearby. As always, West Side Story was at its greatest--on the big wide screen in a real movie theatre, and, as always, I noticed new things about it during this viewing. Although the theatre didn't sell out, the screening of WSS was well attended, and every moment was worth going.
independentminded posts a message on 3/30/2008 11:48:23 AM As everyone on here knows, West Side Story is my alltime favorite film, hands down...and no one, including myself really and truly knows why. Haven't seen WSS this year so far, but I'm excitedly looking forward to driving from Boston out to Albany, NY a week from next Monday to see a screening of the film West Side Story at the Albany Palace Theatre, which looks like another great place to show such a classic. Regarding January 2009's Broadway revival of WSS, I really don't know what I'll be doing back then. I go to the LB/WSS board just out of curiosity, only to see nothing but links, but it seems that Arthur Laurents, who wrote the original book of WSS, and who admitttedly hated the film version, wants today's Jets and Sharks to be more vicious, and the leads, Tony and Maria, much more passionate, and to have a totally different, up-to-date ending, and not the hint of reconciliation of the Jets and Sharks in the end. It might be an interesting idea, but who knows how it would turn out? Would WSS lose the original heart and soul that made the original so great...and popular, or would it be an up-to-date, grittier, tougher version of the original Broadway production? Who knows? Given the various current events here in the United States and throughout the world, I sometimes wonder if our beloved golden oldie-but-goody classic film, West Side Story, will eventually disappear into history. I certainly hope not, because this film is a real treasure, imo. My intense love for the film West Side Story, although accepted and supported by my friends and family, has also provided somewhat of a source of amusement. That doesn't bother me, because they're close, warm, loving and I realize that they like to tease me in fun. When I told my mom that I was driving out to Albany, NY from Boston for a screening of West Side Story, she laughed and called me a maniac...out of affection. I laughed and agreed with her. What can I say...this film is a HARD one for me to resist. On the other hand, however, I've also come in contact and corresponded with people that're totally derisive of the film West Side Story, and my love for it. Some of these people are mental health councilors who regularly work with troubled kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and believe that West Side Story, in addition to being too "white-bread" and dated for their tastes, also evokes negative stereotypes that depict all kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, regardless of ethnic group or color, as being involved in street gang activity and prone to violence. In either case, NOTHING could be farthur from the truth, imho. On the contrary, WSS evokes the message that violence and prejudice are senseless, and, that while never easy, some kind of reconciliation is possible between people, regardless of background. Back to what I was saying earlier: many of the people who're derisive of WSS are also much younger than all of us, and, although not said outright, tend to think of me as somewhat immature and/or retarded, ( Retarded I'm NOT...I'm of average or above average intelligence, with a set of idiosyncracies), because WSS is supposedly about adolescents, but I've also heard that it's about people in their late teens-early 20's. Inotherwords, very young adults. Either of those theories is possible. However, there's one other thing that occurs to me more and more; I believe that that people that're derisive of West Side Story and my love for it, not to mention my style of posting, are people who have issues of their own, are insecure, and have their own panties in a wad much, if not most of the time. It takes all kinds of people to make a world. The world would be a rather dull place, otherwise, wouldn't it. (wink, wink) Anyway, folks--talk to you again soon. All the best. (pardon my rambling.) S

independentminded posts a message on 12/3/2007 12:01:28 AM Tonight, I will make my own synopsis of West Side Story. Here goes: Loosely based on the Shakespeare play, Romeo & Juliet and set on Manhattan's pulsating, fingersnapping West Side during the 1960's, West Side Story is a beautiful movie/musical classic about love and romance, racial & ethnic tensions, and the consequences of prejudice and violence, yet it also presents a ray of hope as well. Two warring street gangs, the white Euro-Anerican Jets and the newly-arrived Puerto Rican Sharks, are vying for the small piece of territory that they must share. Led by Riff, the Jets stake out and claim their turf with a tough, macho attitude. After a playground fight between the two gangs that is ultimately broken up by Lt. Schrank and Ofcr Krupke, the Jets decide to challenge Sharks gangleader, Bernardo, to a rumble. Riff decides that his old friend, Tony, who'd formerly led the Jets, would be the best lieutenant and goes to Doc's Candy Store where Tony now works fulltime, to enlist his help. Tony, who has left the Jets looking for something other than gang and street life, but doesn't know what he's looking for, reluctantly agrees to attend the dance at the gym that night upon being persuaded by Riff. Meanwhile, Anita, the fiesty, fiery girlfriend of Sharks leader, Bernardo, who works at Madame Lucia's Bridal shop, is altering an old white communion dress for Maria, (the pretty 17-year-old sister of Bernardo who has come to the United States to marry Bernardo's friend and righthand man, Chino, who works as a delivery assistant.) to wear to the dance that night. Despite Maria's complaints that the neck isn't low enough, Anita finishes altering the dress for Maria, who tries on the dress, loves it, and is excited about going to the dance. Meanwhile, the Sharks come to call. Meanwhile, at the dance, Glad Hand, a social worker, makes a futile attempt to organize a "get-together" dance for the Jets & Sharks, who each go with their own kind. The dance then becomes a fierce competition between the Jets & Sharks. Tony, meanwhile, comes in later and is greeted and embraced by Riff and his girlfriend, Graziella. After awhile, Tony spots Maria from across the room, they meet, fall in love and begin to dance together. Sparks really begin to fly, as already-rising tensions between the Jets and Sharks ultimately worsen. An enraged Bernardo pulls Tony and Maria up short, ordering Chino to take Maria home despite her protests that this is only her first dance. Riff then intervenes, calling for a war council between the two gangs, to which Bernardo agrees. Meanwhile, Tony goes to Maria's apartment, where they introduce themselves and pledge their love on the fire escape, and then plan to meet at the Bridal Shop at six o'clock the next evening. After awhile, when Maria goes to bed, the Sharks and their girls engage in an argument over the virtues and vices of the American experience. After their party, Bernardo invites Anita to meet her on the roof later, to which Anita replies "I'm an American girl now. I don't wait." While the Jets and their girls wait outside Doc's Candy Store, awaiting the Sharks, they're approached by Ofcr. Krupke, who warns the Jets against troublemaking, but is lampooned by the Jets when he departs. The Jets and their girls then enter Doc's Candy Store, where Riff admonishes the girls to leave when the Sharks come in, stating that this "isn't kid stuff" The two girls leave, after Graziella receives a pat on the behind by Riff. Meanwhile, Anybodys, who's a tomboy and a Jets "wannabe", tries to hide and make herself invisible, but is spotted by Riff who gestures for her to go despite her "let me stay" look. Unlike the other girls, however, Anybodys shoves the Sharks like a big tough guy. Pleas from Doc for the boys to talk it out instead of rumbling are brushed off. After a dispute between the Jets and Sharks that culminates in the exchange of racial/ethnic insults, the war council begins in ernest. They have agreed upon and shaken hands on a time and place to meet the next night for the rumble and are calling weapons when in comes Tony. Ignoring Riff's command to get with the Jets, Tony suggests that the rumble be a "fair" fight (meaning a fist fight) between the best men from each gang. Riff and Bernardo agree to that, and, much to Bernardo's disappointment, Riff chooses Ice to take on Bernardo at the rumble the next night. Meanwhile, Lt. Schrank, comes in, and, after roughly ordering the Sharks out of the Candy Store, he begins asking the Jets where the rumble will take place. The Jets refuse to disclose the whereabouts of the rumble, despite Schrank's declaring "Look fellas. I'm for you. I want this beat cleaned up and you can do it for me. I'll even lend a hand if it gets rough". When the Jets still refuse to disclose where the rumble will take place,
independentminded posts a message on 10/9/2007 12:13:44 AM Just this past August, the great, golden-oldie but goodie film, West Side Story made yet another rendezvous in our area. This time, it played at the Coolidge Theatre, in Brooklinie, MA, just outside Boston. This time, I went with a longtime good friend of mine, and we both enjoyed WSS immensely. My friend had first seen the film West Side Story when it first came out, when we were both pre-teens, and she had not seen it since. In addition to my friend's having enjoyed it and being glad that she came along (so was I.), she agreed with my opinion that West Side Story belonged and needed to be seen on the great big wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low.
independentminded posts a message on 6/20/2007 10:14:22 PM Open letter to an oldie-but-goody keeper of a classic movie/musical, West Side Story: West Side Story--you're one fantastic film--small wonder that so many people love you. Not able to really put my finger on why you're my alltime favorite film, but you definiely are. As a devout, longtime fan of yours, WSS, it's not every movie that I'd drive out of state to see a screening of, but, WSS, you definitely are special. I've seen you up in New Hampshire, down in Providence, RI, and down in the Big Apple....twice: once at Radio City Music Hall roughly a month after 9/11/01, and, 5 years later(last October, to be exact), at the equally palatial and handsome Clearview/Ziegfeld Cinema, also in midtown Manhattan. WSS: although you're wonderful on TV, you're even more spectacular on a great big wide screen in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low. Everything about you seems to take on a fanatastic, more magical and almost 3-dimensional quality on the great big, wide movietheatre screen. From the romancing Tony and Maria to the warring Jets and Sharks, and from Bernsteins fantastic musical score to the beautifully choreographed dancing by Jerome Robbins to the beautiful photography, costumes and cinematic technology, you're fantastic, WSS. From the great aerial sots of NYC's West Side, to the romances of Tony and maria, to the Rumble, everything about you is beautiful. Your music, photography, the strong cast (with the exception of Richard Beymer, who played a weak, lacklustre Tony), the dancing, not to mention the story behind you, has all been combined together to make a dynamically beautiful package. I've also attended virtually every screening of you in my area, WSS, the one exception being in mid-March of 2001, when my late dad's memorial conflicted directly with a Sunday afternoon screening of you in our area, so I didn't attend that particular screening. WSS--you are exuberant, tough, sad, happy, tender, funny, gentle and peaceful all at once. You've got so many different personalities, and you're the only movie-musical that's been able to pull that off. For a fabulous movie-musical, WSS, I extend thanks to you for coming into existence and pleasing so many people, myself included. The very mention of West Side Story brings a smile to my face, especially when I'm in a foul mood. The people who created both the original Broadway stage plays and the film version of you, WSS, have fought the good fight to preserve your integrity and to save you from being made over into a cheap, mediocre up-to-date production. These people deserve much credit and respect for that. I attended a singalong screening of you last March not far from where I live, and am excitedly looking forward to another, regular screening of you in mid-August this summer, WSS. The MGM adage "unlike other classics, West Side Story grows younger", is oh so true.
independentminded posts a message on 5/9/2007 8:46:40 PM More on WSS--the Various Personalities of the Characters (many): Today, in my writing about West Side Story, I will concentrate on writing about something totally different: the various personalities of many of the characters in this movie: Riff: Riff, who was fabulously played by Russ Tamblyn, was a tough but cocky, exuberant person, who always seemed to have a glow about him, was slightly wacky and yet intelligent at the same time. Almost nobody, I think, would expect him to meet an untimely, tragic death. Ice: Ice is the handsome, calm, cool and collected individual, which is probably where his name came from. Tucker Smith played the role of Ice fantastically--it seemed to suit him perfectly. He also ended up keeping Action in check several times during West Side Story--after the fight outside at the beginning, when Action was about to jump on Baby-John for suggesting that they forget the whole rumble/war-council business, when Action sort of got out of control at the Dance at the Gym, and, after the Rumble, when the Jets were hiding out in the garage from the police after fleeing the killings, when Action was still dying to go after the Sharks, to "show them who was on top". Ice's assumption of the leadership of the Jets gang was, in effect, a reward for his calmness, coolness and ability to tackle dellicate situations. He also admonished the jets to keep cool when they learned through Anybodys, that Chino was gunning for Tony. I believe that, had Ice been in Doc's Candy Store when the rest of the Jets, under Action's instigation, attacked and harassed Anita, the harassing wouldn't have happened--Ice would not have let them do that. Bernardo: The leader of the Sharks, who also met a tragic, untimely death during the Rumble, is a fiery but sardonic individual, who seemed to display class, despite his cynicism and hatred of Americans. George Chakiris played the role of Bernardo fabulously in the film WSS. Anita: An outspoken, feisty firebrand of a girl, who is also Bernardo's girlfriend. They're often at odds with each other, and Anita reluctantly accepts the fact that Maria's in love with Tony Maria: Much calmer than Anita, gentle, with a desire not to hate, but to have peace. "Although she's still quite young, Maria has the strength, stubbornness ,temperament and awareness of a woman" Natalie Wood does an OK job of playing the part of Maria in the film West Side Story. Chino: A member of the Shark gang, Bernardo's righthand man and friend. Although Chino was originally going to marry Maria, Maria fell in love with Tony, much to Chino's chagrin, anger and distress. Although Chino is, at the start, a very calm, somewhat shy and gentle person, his personality seems to change noticeably and radically after the Rumble, and, especially when he was determined to seek revenge against Tony for Bernardo's death, and for the fact that Tony had fallen in love with Bernardo's sister. Jose De Vegas did a wonderful job playing Chino in this great movie/musical. Bj The youngest member of the Jets, not to mention the most frightened, awed and immature, he gets the nickname Baby-John. Baby-John, who is scared and overwhelmed to the point of tears by the killings at the rumble, is comforted and defended by his loyal, good buddy, A-Rab, especially when Action tries to lay into Baby-John. Elliot Feld does a wonderful job playing the role of Baby-John in the film WSS. A-Rab: A-rab is sort of a little weasel of a person, and yet a loyal buddy to Baby-John, comforting him when he was clearly too overwhelmed to the point of tears by the killings at the rumble. David Winters does a great job playing A-Rab in the film WSS, although he did play Baby-John in the original Broadway Stage version. Action: Action is clearly the most aggressive of the Jets--and a constant instigator, who periodically must be kept in check by Ice and the other Jets. This was also true at Doc's Candy Store when Lt. Schrank baits Action with "How's the action on your mother's side of the street, Action?", when Riff, Ice and the other Jets, had to restrain him from jumping on Lt. Schrank. Hence, Action, who was played beautifully by Tony Mordente, was called Action. Anybodys: Anybodys is a tomboy and sort of a Jets "wannabe", who, in the end, is accepted reluctantly by the Jets as a peer and an equal. Unfortunately, she acted worse than any of the others in Doc's Candy Store when she said to the rest of the Jets, in reference to Anita "but she wants to help get Tony". Anybodys, however, gets accepted as an equal by the Jets because of her perseverence and her resourcefulness--she "slips in and out of the shadows", ultimately finds Tony, and drags Tony away from the highway after he'd stabbed Bernardo, brings news to the Jets about Chino's gunning for Tony, and attempts to save his life by warning him not to go into S
independentminded posts a message on 5/9/2007 8:38:19 PM More on the songs from West Side Story: (8.00 / 1) Since I'm writing a series on the different aspects of the great, oldie movie/musical West Side Story, this is another part of the series where I'm writing about the songs of WSS: During the first part of the movie, is a sort of an "overture", where the background behind the subtly penciled-in buildings of Manhattan Island turns various colors, and the penciled markers turn into buildings on Manhattan's west side. Then come the cool aerial shots of Manhattan's West Side and the gradual moving down onto the finger-snapping Jets, which, in itself, a provision for the excitement of this great film/musical, and for all the omens that will arive. The Prologue then begins, with the Jets proudly and adamantly and stubbornly claiming their turf, and are determined to protect it against all comers, particularly the newly-arrived Sharks, which, in turn, culminates in a free for all, which is broken up by Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke. The Dance At The Gym: This particular scene is a wildly exuberant part of this great movie/musical, which is supposed to start out as a get-together dance between the Jets and Sharks, which not only fails miserably, but turns into an all-out competition between the Jets and the Sharks on the dance floor. The rising tensions between the two gangs are apparent, and skyrocket furthur when Tony and Maria meet, fall in love, and then begin their doomed romance. I admit that this is one of the greatest scenes in an already great movie/musical, especially when Riff does his two back flips. Wohoo. Officer Krupke: This is when the Jets are at Doc's Candy Store, waiting for the Sharks to arrive for the war council. Krupke and Schrank warn the Jets not to cause trouble, and, when they leave, they're lampooned by the Jets, which is what the song, Officer Krupke, entails. This part deals with the juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, abuse, prostitution, etc. that's rampant. I Feel Pretty: This is when Maria is gaily and happily preparing for her big meeting that night with Tony. The other girls who work with her in the bridle shop sense that Maria's clearly up to something, but can't exactly put a finger on what she is up to, even when Maria explicitly tells them in the song I Fee Pretty, that she is "in love with a pretty, wonderful boy". One Hand, One Heart: This particular song is when Tony and Maria meet as scheduled, at the Bridal Shop where Maria works as a seamstress. Anita, who clearly disapproves of Maria and Tony's relationship, admonishes Maria to "be home in 15 minutes" and tells them that they're out of their heads, when Tony says "we're out of the world" we're 12 feet in the air." Maria is worried-Tony is not. Anyway, after Anita leaves, Maria and Tony stage a mock wedding with all the manniquins in the Bridal shop, where they pledge their love, swearing that "even death won't part us now". Little do they both know, however, that their romance would later go up in smoke. the Pre-Rumble Quintet: Everybody, from the romancing Tony and Maria, to the warring Jets & Sharks, to the excited Anita, who's anticipating a big date with Bernardo after the Rumble, is getting ready for the big night, which, as we all know, will turn out to mean different things and have different results for different people. Krupke and Schrank, meanwhile, are also steeped in their own apprehension of what's to come, as can be seen. The Jets and Sharks are preparing for their big showdown, the Rumble, Anita is getting ready for a big date with Bernardo after ther Rumble, and Tony and Maria are eagerly awating for "tonight" to arrive. The Rumble: This is it--the big showdown, where it starts out as a "fair" fight, as only a fistfight between Bernardo, the Sharks leader, and Ice, who's Riff's righthand man. Just as it's getting underway, Tony, who, at Maria's insistence, has arrived to try to stop the Rumble, with disastrous results--Bernardo, who is enraged at Tony's interest in Maria, slaps Tony around, roughs him up, and insults him for his trouble, until Riff, who still regards Tony as his buddy, rushes forward to belt Bernardo. At that point, the switchblades appear, and Riff and Bernardo begin the knife fight. Tony tries to get in and stop it, but 2 other Jets hold him back. Just as Riff is in a position to " run Bernardo through", Tony manages to break free, and attempts to wrest the knife from Riff's hand, therefore allowing Bernardo to come in and knife Riff. On seeing Riff killed, Tony charges forward, suddenly and rapidly, stabbing Bernardo to death. For afew minutes, there is a free-for-all between the remaining Jets and Sharks, and then the gangs flee the police, leaving behind Riff and Bernardo's bodies. A Boy Like That/I Have a Love: Anita's anger at Maria for having fallen in love with Tony and st
independentminded posts a message on 5/9/2007 8:35:59 PM More on West Side Story: the songs TONIGHT & SOMETHING'S COMIN' are both predictions of what's to come. (5.00 / 2) As we all know, the great venerable movie/musical classic, West Side Story, is full of different messages, and one can and often enough will have a different take on this great classic after each viewing, which I know I sometimes do. The songs Something's Comin' and Tonight both predict that something's going to come about that's different, great and intense, all at once. With the song Something's Comin', the phrase "I don't know what it is, but it is gonna be great" definitely says it all. In this song, Tony is predicting that something's coming--some sort of change, but he doesn't know what, and a lot of its in his mind, as well. The greatness of what's to arrive means that what is to come, for both good and bad, will be intense. The song Tonight is also a prediction and an omen of what's to come: "Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night. Tonight there will be no morning star. Tonight, tonight, I'll see my love tonight, And for us stars will stop where they are" The above lyrics signal an omen of what is to come, both good and bad: the love affair between Tony and Maria, which would very quickly go up in smoke, ending in the demise of Riff, Bernardo, and ultimately, Tony. One of the things that's also great about this dynamic movie/musical is the fact that one has to actually work to figure out what the songs mean. It can be fun to do that, imo.
mapl posts a message on 4/5/2007 11:41:19 PM Just last month, I attended a singalong screening of the great, old classic film, West Side Story, at a theatre not far from where I presently reside. I'd gotten my ticket well in advance of this special event, and joined the large throng of other West Side Story filmgoers who were waiting to enter the theatre, talking and discussing the film among ourselves. Outside, at the theatre box office, was a long line of people waiting to buy tickets for WSS also. Each member of the audience received a small goodies bag containing a small pack of hair gel, a comb, a small American or Puerto Rican flag, a Jets or a Sharks card, a candied ring, some plastic beads, and a Hershey's milk-chocolate chocolate kiss. The words of the songs were printed on the screen. After the emcee kicked off the event with a warm introductory welcome, there was a small costume contest (which I didn't participate in), and then the movie began. The audience was very quiet during the non-singing parts of the film WSS, the quiet interspersed with laughter at the funny parts and a bit of sniffling at the sadder parts. Although I'd come principally to watch the film as usual, I found myself singing along with the rest of the audience inspite of myself--and enjoying it. One thing that I hadn't noticed before with audiences of the film West Side Story, is the fact that the women around me were hissing when Riff patted his girlfriend, Graziella on her behind to warn her to leave the Candy Store due to the pre-rumble War Council that was to take place between the Jets and Sharks. The same women clapped, however, when Anybodys, a tomboy and a Jet wannabe, shoved a couple of the Sharks aside as she was leaving the Candy Store. I wasn't able to figure out why these particular women reacted that way, but friends of mine that I told about it at dinner the other night figured that the women in this particular audience were just making a political statement. I always go to enjoy the movie and not to make any political statements, however. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and, after the film, I joined a couple of women from the audience, who were social workers and who knew each other, for some hot cider down at a small local cafe several doors down from the theatre. We discussed the film at length, what we felt were its strong/weak points, and how we felt it related to certain aspects of real life. it was interesting to hear what other people thought of this classic and their input. Being among a large crowd of other WSS enthusiasts in a real movie theatre is a terrific experience, imo. .
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