When West Side Story made its debut in 1957 on Broadway, it changed the course of musicals forever. Repeatedly being told it was impossible, and too depressing, the creators (Play conceived, directed, and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Arthur Laurents) carried on, and in the end, made such an impact on the genre of musical theater that many still refer to West Side Story as the perfect musical.
West Side Story changed the way musical stories were told, with the intermingling of choreography and acting to effectively forward the action of the story. Its groundbreaking format was to the 1950’s, what Hamilton is to the world today. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story doesn’t shy away from the grit and reality of gang life and racism in New York in the ’50s. It demonstrates and confronts, head on, the hate that stems from fear, and how it so easily destroys the things we love.
All these years later, the story still resonates and is relevant to the world in which we live; a world where fear can lead to conflict, and so many times love is the victim. Director/Choreographer Emily Tello Speck writes in her letter to A.D. Players audiences, “The story challenges us to ask how the cycle can be broken. How do we choose love instead of hate amidst pain? How do we embrace our differences and see that together we are strong, but divided we are weak?”
West Side Story is a very difficult show to cast, and A.D. Players were thrilled to be able to cast the majority of it from local Houston talent! The rest of the cast is joining them from all over the country, and it is amazing to see all of these artists come together to challenge and sharpen each other.
A.D. Players chose to conclude its 2018-2019 Season with West Side Story because it was ambitious and challenging, an opportunity for professional growth. But it also seems a timely call to us all to face our fears and come together.
West Side Story runs June 28-July 28, with previews on June 26 & 27. Shows are Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online or through the Box Office at 713-526-2721.