Broadway circles are abuzz in anticipation of Thursday's opening of West Side Story, a groundbreaking Broadway classic directed -- and reimagined by -- the author of its book, 90-year-old Arthur Laurents. Of course, the 1957 original is a musical reinvention of Romeo and Juliet,with teen gangs the Sharks and the Jets standing in for the warring Capulets and Montagues. But with its thrilling Leonard Bernstein score, lyrics by then-Broadway newcomer Stephen Sondheim, stunning choreography by Jerome Robbins and Laurents' heart-breaking script, West Side Story has remained an enduring piece of theatrical art.
The twist at Broadway's Palace Theatre is that the Puerto Rican Sharks and their family members actually speak and sing in Spanish. Not all the time, but enough so that West Side Storyreportedly feels much more authentic. Josefina Scaglione (shown in a Joan Marcus photo, with Matt Cavenaugh as Tony), the show's Maria, is a 21-year-old opera-trained Argentine actress, and a number of her cast mates are Latino performers. The new dialog and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of last season's Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights.
In South Florida, a different, more traditional but decidedly younger West Side Story will play six performances beginning March 27. The Roxy Theatre Group, a non-profit training program for kids and teens, has a large-scale production in the works: 75 cast members ages 11 to 17, representing more than 25 schools, singing and dancing to the accompaniment of the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. Monica Rosell, a junior at Southwest Miami Senior High School, and Kevin Yungman, a sophomore at Cypress Bay High, play Maria and Tony.
Roxy's West Side Story, which benefits the group's student scholarship fund, runs March 27-April 5 at 1645 SW 107th Ave. in Miami. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 ($50 opening night tickets include a cocktail reception and post-show party). For information, call 305-226-0030 or email SusannePinedo@gmail.com.