FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The tour of the current smash hit Broadway production of WEST SIDE STORY is coming to Pittsburgh, Penn. WEST SIDE STORY will open at the Benedum Center on Tuesday, May 11, 2011. Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents’ Broadway direction will be recreated for the tour by David Saint, the Associate Director on Broadway. The original Jerome Robbins choreography is reproduced by Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life). WEST SIDE STORY is part of the PNC Broadway Across America – Pittsburgh series, presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony and Broadway Across America.
The new Broadway cast album of WEST SIDE STORY won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album on January 31, 2010. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”
The new Broadway production began previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway Monday, February 23, 2009, opened to critical acclaim breaking box office records at the Palace Theatre on Thursday, March 19, 2009, and recouped its $14 million investment after running only 30 weeks. The Broadway production played its final performance January 2, 2011. The musical played 27 previews and 748 regular performances, making it the longest-running production of the groundbreaking musical in Broadway history. The original production, which had held the record, played 732 performances on Broadway.
WEST SIDE STORY features scenic designs by James Youmans (Gypsy), costumes by Tony Award nominee David C. Woolard (The Farnsworth Invention, The Who’s Tommy), lighting by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Gypsy, Jersey Boys), sound design by Tony Award nominee Dan Moses Schreier (Gypsy, A Catered Affair) and hair by Mark Adam Rampmeyer (The Farnsworth Invention).
WEST SIDE STORY is written by three theatrical luminaries: two-time Tony Award winner Arthur Laurents (book) and multiple Tony and Grammy Award winners Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) in his Broadway debut.
WEST SIDE STORY is produced by Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, Jeffrey Seller with Terry Allen Kramer, Sander Jacobs, Roy Furman / Jill Furman Willis, Robyn Goodman / Walt Grossman, Hal Luftig, Roy Miller and Broadway Across America.
WEST SIDE STORY tickets ($22-$69) are available at the Box Office at Theater Square, online at pgharts.org and by calling 412-456-6666. Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by calling 412-471-6930. Performances are: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
WEST SIDE STORY had a long journey to Broadway. Six years elapsed between Jerome Robbins's first idea of a modern musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and its actual Broadway debut in 1957. Originally, the action of the musical was to take place on New York's Lower East Side with tensions flaring between Jews and Catholics during the Passover and Easter holidays. The original setting left the authors uninspired and the project was put on hold. Years later, when Arthur Laurents proposed changing the basis of conflict from religion to race, the show gained creative momentum and WEST SIDE STORY was born.
Originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, WEST SIDE STORY opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957 and garnered passionate reactions from critics and audiences alike. The piece has often been credited with changing the entire course of the American musical theatre. Applauding the creators’ innovation in dance and musical style, TIME Magazine exclaimed “Robbins’ energetic choreography and Bernstein’s grand score accentuate the satiric, hard-edged lyrics of Sondheim and Laurents’ capture of the angry voice of urban youth.” New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson described the show as “profoundly moving; an incandescent piece of work where theatre people, engrossed in an original project, are all in top form.”
The original production starred Larry Kert as “Tony,” Carol Lawrence as “Maria,” Chita Rivera as “Anita,” and won six Tony Award nominations including Best Musical of 1957. Jerome Robbins won the Award for his groundbreaking choreography and Oliver Smith took home the prize for Best Scenic Design. Also nominated were Carol Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, Max Goberman for Best Musical Director and Irene Sharaff for Best Costume Design. WEST SIDE STORY ran for 732 performances before launching national and international tours and a successful mounting at London’s Majesty Theatre in 1958. The first revival of the musical opened on April 8, 1964 at New York City Center by the New York City Center Light Opera Company. The production closed on May 3, 1964 after a limited engagement of 31 performances. The City Center production was staged by Gerald Freedman based on Robbins' original concept. A Broadway revival opened at the Minskoff Theatre on February 14, 1980 directed and choreographed by Robbins with the assistance of Tom Abbott and Lee Becker Theodore. The revival was nominated for a 1980 Tony Award for Best Revival as well as nods for Debbie Allen as “Anita” and Josie de Guzman as “Maria.”
The revival of WEST SIDE STORY on which this tour is based began previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway Monday, February 23, 2009, opened to critical acclaim breaking box office records on Thursday, March 19, 2009, recouped its $14 million investment after running only 30 weeks. The musical played 27 previews and 748 regular performances, making it the longest-running production of the groundbreaking musical in Broadway history.
An exciting and innovative motion picture version, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, was released in 1961 and starred Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers “Maria and Tony” and Rita Moreno as “Anita.” The film also received wide praise from critics, winning ten Academy Awards out of its eleven nominated categories (including Best Picture) as well as a special award for Robbins. The film’s soundtrack grossed more than any other album before it.