The only Spanish Liza knew was margarita.
Liza's NOT at The Palace! Instead, a revival of the 1957 landmark musical West Side Story directed by its librettist Arthur Laurents, has moved in on Liza's turf, switchblades drawn.
Boy meets girl.
I splurged on great seats for the very first preview as a gift to my partner, José, for Christmas. He holds West Side Story in high regard, so this was a treat for him as well as interesting for me to see his reaction to this latest re-invention (it was revived in 1960, 1964 and 1980 and of course spawned the classic 1961 film).
For the third time in recent years, my early-bird habit found me seated very close to a production's director—I have sat by the directors of The Ritz and Young Frankenstein, and last night sat two rows behind Arthur Laurents.
As such, I was able to monitor his reactions to the show, which he seemed to temper for the very reason that he didn't
want to draw attention to himself. But attention needs to be drawn—he is 91 years of age and is finally directing what was the first musical he ever wrote, hot on the heels of having directed his musical Gypsy to big success for the third time and has a new play opening in the spring. That he is still so creatively and physically adept—he dashed up the aisle unaided at intermission—is an in inspiration in and of itself, that he is openly, unapologetically gay is also noteworthy. (Read his smart, dishy autobiography from 2000—Original Story By: A Memoir Of Broadway And Hollywood—if you get a chance. The man wrote the plays Home Of The Brave, West Side Story and Gypsy, the movies Rope, The Way We Were and The Turning Point, directed Barbra Streisand in I Can Get It For You Wholesale and fucked Farley Granger. Or pre-order his Mainly On Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story, And Other Musicals.)
Laurents has stated that he feels this production is more modern than the original in that every member of each of its now iconic teenage gangs—the white Jets, the Puerto Rican Sharks—is portrayed as having the potential to be a killer; only the musical's romance-drunk leads, Tony (Matt Cavenaugh) and Maria (Josefina Scaglione) are presented as truly wanting to live outside the street life. He's also trying to be innovative by making this a Spanglish production, using Spanish with no subtitles or translation in key scenes. Most noticeably, "I Feel Pretty" is now "Siento Hermosa."
After the jump, see a brief curtain-call video at the end of the post...