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Broadway Across America: West Side Story

Given enough time, the revolutionary starts to seem commonplace, even a bit old-fashioned. Yet it’s hard to overstate what Jerome Robbins did to change the nature of stage choreography in his landmark 1957 show West Side Story—all while trying to stay true to a gritty world of real violence.

A spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet—with the star-cross’d romance between Tony and Maria set among two rival gangs in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City—West Side Story has taken its place among the acknowledged classics of its time. The songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim became instant standards, a parade of brilliantly memorable tunes including “Maria,” “Tonight,” “Somewhere,” “America” and “I Feel Pretty.”

But Robbins’ choreography took the production to a different place, with its risky attempt to turn the movements of tough street kids into an athletic mix of modern dance and ballet. The stylized rumble between the Sharks and Jets could have looked ridiculous; instead, it retained a genuine sense of danger while still capturing rhythmic movement, so that it felt as if these kids had stepped out of tenement buildings rather than dance studios.

Broadway Across America brings to town the latest touring company of the stalwart musical. And while two generations have passed since West Side Story’s Broadway debut, the touring shows retain a commitment to those wonderful songs and to re-creating Robbins’ remarkable choreography. Step into the Capitol Theatre, and step back in time. (Scott Renshaw) Broadway Across America: West Side Story @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, April 16-21, see website for times, $32.50-$62.50.

Date: Apr 16, 2013
Time: Times Vary
Phone: 801-355-2787
Address: 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 84101
Where: Capitol Theatre