Based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, this musical with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and choreography by Jerome Robbins was breakthrough for the Broadway theatre for many reasons. Like On Your Toes and Oklahoma!, it contributed to the pioneering use of dance in musicals as a major story-telling device. Unlike the predecessors, its score juxtaposed many styles for a much more dissonant and vibrant, and the subject itself involved more somber issues than tackled on Broadway.
The show concerned rival gangs, one of Puerto Rican immigrants, the other of second- and third- generation Polish-Americans, and their reactions when Tony, the ex- leader of the Jets (the Polish-Americans), falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks (the Puerto Rican immigrants). Includes the songs "Tonight," "Maria," and "Something's Coming."
Original ProductionOpened September 26, 1957 at the Winter Garden Theatre
Ran for 732 performances
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents
Based on a conception of Jerome Robbins
Produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince
by arrangement with Roger L. Stevens
Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Co-Choreographed by Peter Gennaro
Scenic Production by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Irene Sharaff
Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Musical Direction by Max Goberman
Orchestrations by Leonard Bernstein with Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal
Original Broadway CastThe Jets:
Riff (The Leader) - Mickey Calin
Graziella - Wilma Curley
Bernardo (The Leader) - Ken Le Roy
Rosalia - Marilyn Cooper
Doc - Art Smith
United Artists motion picture released 1961, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris
Revived on Broadway at Lincoln Center, 1968, starring Victoria Mallory, Kurt Peterson, Avind Harum, Barbara Luna, and Alan Castner
Revived on Broadway, 1980, starring Josie de Guzman, Ken Marshall, James J. Mellon, Debbie Allen, and Hector Jaime Mercado
Rights controlled by Music Theatre International
Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...
- Mark Bakalor
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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