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Radical New West Side Story Paints an Angry Young America

West Side Story by N/A is licensed under Libris Public Domain
In spring 2016, Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove was in New York, preparing his Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Between rehearsals, he found himself captivated by the crowded and chaotic Republican presidential primaries. Like the rest of the country, he watched in awe as Donald Trump moved from the sidelines to center stage in a drama as startling as Miller’s. 

Van Hove realized that the issues bubbling up in the campaign—racism, immigration, issues of integration, tribal loyalty—were all in a certain 1957 musical, van Hove realized. “I thought: Well, West Side Story talked about this in a very accessible way,” he says. “With great music.” After directing a string of critically acclaimed reinterpretations of American classics, including A View from the Bridge and A Streetcar Named Desire, among others, he decided the Shakespearean story of star-crossed lovers in midcentury New York would come next. 

One presidential election cycle later, van Hove’s West Side Story will open on Feb. 20 at the Broadway Theatre in a production that feels as urgent as its themes, thanks to a slimmed one-act structure and video projections that leave the vast stage bare for hurricanes of dancers to blow through. (The production will precede Steven Spielberg’s big-screen remake of the 1961 Academy Award-winning film adaptation, due in December.) Six decades after its debut, it seems West Side Story is again the story of our time. 

Back in 2016, after Trump secured the nomination, van Hove took his vision to producer Scott Rudin, who liked it. But van Hove had a few conditions. “I want to make a West Side Story for the 21st century,” he told Rudin. “Not a recreation of what it was in the ‘50s.” In particular, that meant new choreography.
Source: Yahoo News
West Side Story by N/A is licensed under Libris Public Domain