West Side Story can be classified as a musical that has been penned by Arthur Laurents and that’s’ music has been composed by Leonard Bernstein. Stephen Sondheim has penned the lyrics for it. The musical has been lightly based upon the work of William Shakespeares popular “Romeo and Juliet”. The story of this musical has been set in Manhattans West Side/Hells Kitchen during the mid fifties time period. The basic story revolves around the rivalry that exists between two teenage gangs who belong to not only different ethnic but also different cultural backgrounds.
The character of the young protagonist named Anton (who is nicknamed as "Tony" is a character that is a member of the White gang and ends up falling in love with a character named Maria. Maria is the younger sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang. The story involves not only a dark theme but also supports sophisticated music that has several extended dance scenes. It focuses on social problems that have been marked as a turning point in the history of the American musical theater. Bernstein who has given the musical score for this musical composed very good music for it that eventually became much popular with the audience. Some of the more popular songs that are a part of this musical are titled "Somethings Coming," "Maria," "America," and "Somewhere." Some other songs that gained much admiration and fame were "Tonight," "Jet Song," "I Feel Pretty," and last but not the least "One Hand, One Heart," and also "Cool."
As far as the original 1957 Broadway production is concerned it had been directed and choreographed by the very talented Jerome Robbins and had been produced jointly by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince. It had been Stephen Sondheims Broadway debut. It ran for over seven hundred performances (which were considered as a very successful run at that specific time). This had been before they had gone on a tour. The production had been awarded with a Tony Award nomination that had been for the category of the Best Musicals in the year 1957. Unfortunately they failed to win the award that had eventually been awarded to Meredith Willsons “The Music Man”.
It did manage to win the prestigious Tony Award nonetheless in the same year that is 1957 for Jerome Robbins splendid choreography. Not only this, but the show also enjoyed a much longer-running time period in London where it has had several revivals and eventually much international fame and success. An innovative movie was also based on it in the year 1961 and managed to win several awards. This musical film had been of the same name. The West Side Story has also been produced very frequently by the schools, the regional theaters and occasionally also by several popular opera companies.