When West Side Story debuted in 1957, the producers, directors and actors were all worried about the audience reaction. The ending of the show was dramatic and tragic, but the message and meaning was important.
The book by Arthur Laurents, and the music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim could not have been better. The dancers, choreographed by Jerome Robbins were spectacular. But the question remained…how would the audience react to this sad ending?
When the curtain closed at the end, there was silence. The powers that be thought “Oh my”. Then suddenly, the audience stood and there was a thunderous ovation. This went on for many minutes and the actors were in a state of shock.
Much like Oklahoma years earlier, West Side Story was a groundbreaking musical. Today, it is performed all the time. The movie won 10 academy awards and the show remains as important today as it was then. There is always a time and a place for this kind of beauty.