Get ready to rumble. "West Side Story" returns to Broadway in 2009.
The classic New York musical about the Sharks, the Jets and the ill-fated love affair involving a young man and woman caught between the gangs opens in March, producers Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander and Jeffrey Seller announced Wednesday. Preview performances begin Feb. 23 with an exact opening date, cast and theater to be announced.
The show, which has music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, will play an out-of-town engagement Dec. 16-Jan. 17 at Washington's National Theatre, which is where the original had its world premiere in 1957. Laurents will direct and Joey McKneely will restage Jerome Robbins' original choreography.
"This show will be radically different from any other production of 'West Side Story' ever done," Laurents said in a statement. "The musical theater and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be."
One of the changes will be the selective use of Spanish throughout the book and songs in the show, which will have an onstage cast of 37 as well as 30 musicians in the orchestra pit.
"West Side Story," loosely based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," chronicles the love affair between Tony and Maria, lovers caught in a violent world not of their making. Larry Kert, Carol Lawrence and Chita Rivera starred in the original 1957 New York production. The Academy Award-winning movie starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer and Rita Moreno. The last Broadway revival was in 1980.