HOLLYWOOD - "West Side Story," which opens at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood on Nov. 30, has extended its engagement by two weeks, producers of the national tour announced this week.Added performances Dec. 21 through Jan. 2 will go on sale Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. The new Broadway production began previews at the Palace Theatre on Feb. 23, 2009, and opened to critical acclaim on March 19, 2009, breaking box office records and going on to recoup its $14 million investment after running only 30 weeks. Based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," "Westside Story" is set in 1950s New York City. It follows the doomed love story of two star-crossed lovers from rival gangs - the Jets (a working-class white gang) and the Sharks (first-generation Puerto Ricans). Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, a sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. "West Side Story" has often been credited with changing the course of American musical theater. Originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, "West Side Story" opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Sept. 26, 1957 and garnered passionate reactions from critics and audiences alike. Applauding the creators' innovation in dance and musical style, Time magazine exclaimed "[Jerome] 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 Broadway production won six 1958 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Choreography. The show ran 732 performances, closing on June 27, 1959. The motion picture version, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, was released in 1961 and starred Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as Maria and Tony, and featured Rita Moreno, recreating the role of Anita, which she had originated in the Broadway production. The film was widely praised by critics, and it won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, out of its 11 nominated categories. The film's soundtrack grossed more than any other album before it. The cast of the current tour of "West Side Story" feature Kyle Harris as Tony, Ali Ewoldt as Maria and Michelle Aravena as Anita. Tickets to see "West Side Story" range between $25 and $90. They are available at www.broadwayla.org or by calling (800) 982-2787.
********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25