The story line is a reworking of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set among Polish-American and Puerto Rican street gangs in New York City's Upper West Side. Tony and Maria fall in love, despite the fact that they are associated with rival gangs - Tony with the Jets, and Puerto Ricann-born Maria with the Sharks.
The dark theme, sophisticated music, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in English language musical theatre, which had previously (with rare exceptions) tended toward light and fluffy themes. West Side Story is still produced frequently by local theatres and is occasionally produced by classical opera companies.
Bernstein's score for the musical has been extremely popular. Some of the songs include "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Tonight", "Gee, Officer Krupke", "I Feel Pretty", "One Hand, One Heart" and "Cool".
The film was #41 on American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies and #3 on its 100 Years, 100 Passions, and has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins
|The Jets||The Sharks|
Riff, The Leader
Tony, His Friend
Bernardo, The Leader
Maria, His Sister
Anita, His Girl
Chino, His Friend
|Their Girls||Their Girls|
Academy Award wins and nominations for the movie