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Book Review: "Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures" By Joe Jordan

BY DEAN BRIERLY

For a film director with such an iconic resume, there’s a surprising scarcity of scholarly books devoted to Robert Wise, the man who directed such classics as "West Side Story" (1961), "The Haunting" (1963), “The Sound of Music” (1965), “The Curse of the Cat People” (1944), “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), “The Sand Pebbles” (1966) and many other critical and commercial successes. To say nothing of his stature as the man who edited “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942) before taking up decades-long residence in the director’s chair.

Wise brought a self-effacing approach to directing, one that never drew attention to itself. He may have had the most “invisible” style of all the major directors from Hollywood’s Golden Era, which no doubt helps explain why he never had the auteur imprimatur conferred upon him by French critics who swooned over Welles’ baroque visuals, Douglas Sirk’s melodramatic excess, and Howard Hawks’ male-bonding thematic.
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Cleveland Orchestra closes season in style with spectacular 'West Side Story' film presentation

By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer ,
zlewis@plaind.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Call it unorthodox. Call it populist. Just don't call the Cleveland Orchestra's season finale anything less than spectacular.

Sure, by performing "West Side Story" live with the film, the orchestra is breaking a few tired, unwritten rules. Instead of its traditional subscription brochure, the orchestra is taking a page out of its "At the Movies" pamphlet.

But who cares? The reward justifies the risk. Any number of core classical works might have filled the season finale slot, but the fact is "West Side Story" suits the occasion perfectly, better than just about anything else.
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Review: ‘West Side Story’ at The Media Theatre

By Ellen Wilson Dilks

Earlier this season, The Media Theatre presented Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet. Now they’re concluding their 2016-2017 season with a production of West Side Story, the musical that put a 20th Century spin on the Bard’s story and became a masterwork in its own right. Set in New York’s Upper West Side in the mid-1950s, West Side Story tells the story of two rival gangs, one all-white (the Jets) and the other all-Puerto Rican (the Sharks). The Jets are led by Riff, whose best friend, Tony (a former gang member), falls in love with Maria — the younger sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.
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Review: ‘West Side Story’ is all of our stories

by Ellen Burkhardt

It’s a story that could be told about any city, anywhere, at any time: Two ethnically divided groups fighting over pride, property, bragging rights, and power; their actions motivated by fear, insecurity, and hatred.
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REVIEW: ‘West Side Story,’ A Timeless Story with a Sweeping Score and Innovative Dance Narrative

by Ivan Steel

There’s no doubt why Arthur Laurents critically acclaimed masterpiece, “West Side Story” has been enthralling audiences for the past 60 years. Besides, it’s sweeping score and innovative dance narrative, the timeless story of forbidden love, racial tension and police corruption still bear relevance today. Now, McCoy Rigby Entertainment has brought the iconic musical to The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, under the direction of Richard Israel, currently playing through May 14, 2017.

The landmark musical, based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” explores the rivalry between two New York City street gangs – the Jets [a Caucasian gang] and the Sharks [a Puerto Rican gang] in the mid 1950’s. Laurents original book entitled “East Side Story” featured a feud between an Irish-Catholic and Jewish family before rewritten into the gang warfare version we’re all familiar with today.
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WEST SIDE STORY: STILL MAKING MAGIC ON STAGE

BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO

West Side Story is unlike any other musical. Generation after generation, it stands the test of time both in admiration and in the message it relates: hope heals and hate destroys. This beloved musical was created by the juggernauts of the industry: Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Jerome Robbins (conception and choreography) and took the world by storm when it landed on Broadway in 1957. If that wasn’t enough, it was adapted to a film in 1961, winning ten Academy Awards including Best Picture. Now La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts carries on the tradition in its own magnificent production of this classic, melding past and present in this sparkling revival.
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INTERVIEW: Tyler Michaels on West Side Story and His New Theatre Company

by Basil Considine

Somali gangs in Minneapolis might get all the press, but the City of St. Paul is about to get its very own gang problem. Well, kind of – the Jets and Sharks of West Side Story are set to occupy the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts from April 4-16. This classic musical is being produced as a collaboration between the Ordway and the Teatro del Pueblo, and engages with gang rivalries, immigration tension, and other themes that remain surprisingly relevant today.

In this production, Tyler Michaels plays Tony, a former Jets member who is swept back into the violence and falls tragically in love with Maria (Evy Ortiz). Basil Considine sat down with Tyler Michaels to discuss his acting career, his new theatre company, and returning to the role of Tony.
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REVIEW: This electric revival harks back to Jerome Robbins' original staging 60 years ago.

By Rohan Preston Star Tribune

Is there anything that Twin Cities theater phenom Tyler Michaels cannot do? Here, at last, is one: In “West Side Story,” which had its thrilling opening Thursday at Ordway Center, Michaels doesn’t even attempt a New York accent for this “Romeo and Juliet” story about battling Big Apple street gangs.

Otherwise, Michaels holds his own, singing and dancing as the romantic lead Tony opposite Evy Ortiz’s entrancing Maria. These two headliners add to the electricity rippling off the stage from a solid revival of the classic musical, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year.
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A brilliant 'West Side Story' at Casa Manana, still heartbreakingly relevant

Written by Nancy Churnin, Theater Critic

FORT WORTH — After all these years, I didn't think West Side Story could make me cry. But it did, more than once. Sixty years after this take on the Romeo and Juliet story by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents astonished Broadway, Casa Manana has not only cast the leads, brilliantly played by John Riddle and Addie Morales, the company has made the novel move of going back to the original conception, complete with Jerome Robbins' Tony Award-winning choreography, here reproduced in its breathtaking entirety by Jeremy Dumont.
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West Side Stories: The Making of a Classic, BBC Two
Excellent footage and interviews not always put to good use

by David Benedict

The last time BBC TV headed over to West Side Story, it landed itself with a contradiction. Christopher Swann’s 1985 fly-on-the-wall documentary The Making of West Side Story – about Leonard Bernstein recording his celebrated score with a cast of opera singers – bagged the prestigious Prix Italia, but the actual material was a wildly unidiomatic misfire. The reverse was true of BBC2’s Boxing Day special West Side Stories – The Making Of A Classic. The material – archive and newly filmed – that producer/director Ursula Macfarlane had acquired was often first-rate: what she did with it was somewhat frustrating.
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12 ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Movies, Ranked
Not all adaptations are alike in dignity

1. West Side Story (1961)


It speaks to the eternal brilliance of Shakespeare that when we reimagine his plays in strange new places, they work all the better — and it speaks to the perfection of Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story that it beat out all these lush Renaissance retellings for the top spot among Romeo and Juliet movies. Fair Verona becomes Manhattan in the 1950s, where rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks are embroiled in a bitter turf war, and former Jet Tony (Richard Beymer) romances the Sharks’ leader’s sister Maria (Natalie Wood) from the bottom of a fire escape. While nobody speaks a word of Shakespeare, the movie’s got the next best thing in Stephen Sondheim, who got one of his first major gigs writing the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s songs. And while the young lovers are both sufficiently charming, it’s George Chakiris’ Bernardo (the Tybalt character) and Rita Moreno’s Anita (the Nurse) who steal the show in Oscar-winning performances buoyed by some killer dancing. West Side Story may not be written in iambic pentameter, but its passion and sincerity get to the heart of Romeo and Juliet better than anything else.

http://www.ew.com/gallery/romeo-and-juliet-adaptations/2799581_1-west-side-story-1961
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Classic Films: WEST SIDE STORY

Posted by Michelle Buchman

History

Since the beginning, cinema has looked to the stage as a source of inspiration for new material. From comedy to tragedy, theatre offered a wide range of incredible stories for filmmakers to choose from. Unsurprisingly, a number of screenwriters, directors, and studios looked to one of the greatest playwrights of all time: William Shakespeare. In total, the Guinness Book of World Records lists him as the most filmed author ever in any language. Hundreds of years after his death, the Bard continues to influence modern storytellers around the world.
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Even decades later, the music, choreography and effect of 'West Side Story' are hard to resist

By Philip K. Scheuer

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 18, 1961, “West Side Story” hit movie theaters. To commemorate the anniversary of that event, here is the original Los Angeles Times review of the film.

“West Side Story” will be the American picture to watch at Oscar time, for it restores something of the glory that was Hollywood — and Academy voters are a chauvinistic bunch. And glory is the word, even though all of the story takes place amid the bricks and pavements of a New York slum — shot partly “on-location,” but mostly in a slum city virtually re-created at Goldwyn studio by Boris Leven.
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BWW Review: Feeling Pretty at Orlando Shakes' WEST SIDE STORY

by Kimberly Moy

It's a Broadway classic with show tunes that have permeated popular culture. This year Orlando Shakes brings WEST SIDE STORY to its mainstage to kick off its 28th season. With everything that Orlando has endured this Summer, WEST SIDE STORY has never been more relevant. At the start of the show, two cast members come out, one speaking in English, the other in Spanish to dedicated the performance to one of the 49 victims of the Pulse tragedy. It is a touching tribute that fits this story well.
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WEST SIDE STORY at CMPAC

by Melissa Giordano

Being there are many productions of the iconic musical West Side Story running at any one time, it is imperative that the cast be absolutely brilliant. Indeed, the company at The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center does not disappoint under the outstanding direction of Martin Aviles, who has been in several productions of West Side Story himself. This dazzling production, playing through August 28th at the Oakdale venue, will leave you extremely impressed with the incredible talent Long Island has to offer.
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Theatre review: West Side Story has an electricity that is hard to resist

Shawn Conner

West Side Story remains a singularly American entertainment. Touching on issues of class, immigration and disaffected youth, it’s held a place in the musical theatre canon since its Broadway debut in 1957.

The material itself, from Leonard Bernstein’s neo-noir-ish music and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics to Arthur Laurents’ book and Jerome Robbins choreography, is ironclad. The tale of the rivalry between the two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, has become cultural shorthand for gang violence. The 1961 movie version, meanwhile, remains a groundbreaking, surreal mix of modern dance, stylized language, surreal cityscapes, and tragic Romeo-Juliet romance.

In the Theatre Under the Stars production now at Malkin Bowl (alternating with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Matt Montgomery gives an excellent performance as Tony. As the former Jets gang member who falls in love with the sister of the leader of the Sharks, Montgomery has his work cut out for him — singing and dancing while trying to unify the two gangs and woo the dark-haired Maria.

Alexandra Lainfiesta is also fine as Maria’s friend, the fiery Anita. The role of bland Maria (Natalie Wood in the 1961 movie version) is no gift to actresses, however Jennifer Gillis does well with the part even though her high voice can be a little distracting. Alen Dominguez as Bernardo and Daniel James White, leaders of the Sharks and the Jets respectively, also convincingly carry the action.
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Gustavo Dudamel's Hollywood Bowl 'West Side Story' is a story for right now

Mark Swed, Music Critic

Of “West Side Story’s” many Broadway musical innovations, the least noticed may be the role of the conductor. In the first of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s two performances of Leonard Bernstein’s complete score at the Hollywood Bowl Thursday night, Gustavo Dudamel was noticed.

He led an enthrallingly energized performance that nevertheless recognized the profoundly dark and spiritual underside of a 1957 show in which there is a lot going on. Thematically, this update of “Romeo and Juliet” to a then-gang-ridden Upper West Side of Manhattan has never not been timely. The composer penciled over the top of his copy of Shakespeare’s play: “An out and out plea for racial tolerance.”

 photo 162016tonymaria_zpsrt2uuts9.jpg

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CT Rep's Respectful 'West Side Story' Hyperstylized, Dance-Driven

By Christopher Arnott•Contact Reporter

There's still a place for "West Side Story," the landmark 1957 musical that turns street fighting into modern dance and resets "Romeo and Juliet" as a racially charged story of forbidden love in New York City.

"West Side Story," which closes the Nutmeg Summer Series at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, doesn't harshly dramatize issues of violence and bigotry the way a lot of contemporary theater does. It softens and romanticizes them. The performers here are dancers, not fighters. There's little danger or menace in their fluid movements.


But that didn't stop me from blubbering at the show's end as the final gunshot rang out in a series of tragic events affecting a stage full of likable and vulnerable young people. What "West Side Story" still does well is show life spiraling out of control.
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Theater Review: PSF tells a brilliant ‘West Side Story’

by Paul Willistein

If you think you know “West Side Story,” either from having seen a previous stage production or the 1961 movie version, think again.

Until you’ve seen the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of “West Side Story” directed by PSF Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, you don’t know “West Side Story.”
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