Breaking: Ivo van Hove Will Direct A New Staging of WEST SIDE STORY on Broadway
Producer Scott Rudin announced today that the Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim's masterwork, West Side Story, will return to Broadway in a new production directed by Tony Award winner Ivo van Hove; and for the first time ever in the United States, will feature all-new choreography by the internationally acclaimed Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
The production will also feature scenery and lighting design by Mr. van Hove's longtime collaborator, Jan Versweyveld. West Side Story will begin performances on December 10, 2019, ahead of an official opening night on February 6, 2020 at a theater to be announced.
In a statement, Mr. Sondheim said, "This is Ivo van Hove's first Broadway musical, and I'm eager to see what he does with it. What keeps theater alive over time is reinterpretation, and when that reinterpretation is as invigorating as his productions of A View from the Bridge and The Crucible, it makes for something to look forward to with excitement."
David Saint, literary executor of the Arthur Laurents Estate, added in a statement, "Arthur always believed the only reason to revive West Side Story on Broadway was to bring a new perspective to the material. Ivo van Hove is sure to do just that."
And on behalf of Leonard Bernstein, Jamie Bernstein said, "The Bernstein Office and siblings are thrilled at this opportunity to see West Side Story staged anew in its own location, New York City. This show's theme of love destroyed by hatred and intolerance is as poignant today as it was in Shakespeare's time - but the story line involving the mistreatment of Puerto Rican immigrants makes West Side Story more timely now than ever. 'Nobody knows in America/Puerto Rico's IN America!'"
When the original production of West Side Story first premiered at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957, it utterly changed the face of the American musical theater. A career defining milestone for every single member of its towering creative team - Laurents, Bernstein, Sondheim, and Robbins - West Side Story reimagined the most enduring love story ever written as a contemporary musical complete with form-shattering stagecraft and a score for the ages. Now, more than 60 years later, the legacy of that original production, along with subsequent stagings around the globe and the iconic cinematic adaptation, has cemented West Side Story's place as one the most significant cultural achievements of the 20th century.
Ivo van Hove is currently the director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam (since 2001). Ivo van Hove began his career in 1981 and quickly became the director of Het Zuidelijk Toneel from 1990 to 2000. From 1998 to 2004, he was the artistic director of the Holland Festival, presenting his selection of international theater, music, opera, and dance. Mr. van Hove has most recently been represented on Broadway with the critically acclaimed revivals of The Crucible and A View from the Bridge, which won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Revival and earned him his first Tony Award for Best Director. Additional theater work includes Network and Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre; A View from the Bridge at The Young Vic and on the West End; David Bowie and Edna Walsh's Lazarus in New York and London; Visconti's The Damned at La Comédie-Française and The Park Avenue Armory; Rent; and Angels in America, Roman Tragedies, Kings of War, Opening Night, Antonioni, Taming of the Shrew, Scenes from a Marriage, After the Rehearsal/Persona, Othello, The Miser, Mourning Becomes Electra, Long Day's Journey into Night, and The Fountainhead at Toneelgroep Amsterdam. His opera work includes Boris Godunov at Paris Opera; Lulu; the entire Ring des Nibelungen; The Makropulos Affair and Salome at the Dutch National Opera; and the world premiere of Brokeback Mountain in Madrid. Mr. van Hove has been honored with an Olivier Award for A View from the Bridge (Best Director); two Obie Awards for More Stately Mansions and Hedda Gabler; The Archangel Award at the Edinburgh Festival; the Critic's Circle Award; a Molière Award for best production in France; and a Dutch Oeuvre Award, together with Jan Versweyveld. He has also received an honorary doctorate for general merit from the University of Antwerp and the Culture Prize for Overall Cultural Merit from the Flemish Government. Mr. van Hove is a Knight of l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and has been awarded a Commander of the Order of the Crown by King Filip of Belgium.
After studying dance at the Mudra School in Brussels and NYU Tisch School of the Arts in New York, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker created Asch in 1980, her first choreographic work. Two years later, she created the internationally acclaimed Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich. De Keersmaeker established the dance company Rosas in 1983 in Brussels, while creating the work Rosas danst Rosas. These breakthrough pieces set the precedent for a choreography consistently grounded in a rigorous and prolific exploration of dance and music, also venturing into theater, text, and interdisciplinary performance. Over the course of her thirty-eight-year-long career, De Keersmaeker has created a large body of work-more than fifty-five choreographies that have toured theaters around the world-engaging the musical structures and scores of several periods, from early music to contemporary and pop. Her practice draws its formal principles from geometry, numerical patterns, the natural world, and social structures to offer a unique perspective on the body's articulation in space and time. Describing herself as first and foremost a dancer, the choreographer continues to dance in her own work. From 1992 until 2007, De Keersmaeker's dance company, Rosas, was in residence in the Brussels opera house La Monnaie / De Munt. During this period, De Keersmaeker directed a number of operas and large ensemble pieces that have since been performed by Rosas and by repertoire companies worldwide. Many of her choreographies have been translated to film by directors such as Thierry De Mey, or by De Keersmaeker herself. Her work has received numerous awards, including The Bessie, or the American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography. In 1995 De Keersmaeker established the school P.A.R.T.S. (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) in Brussels in association with La Monnaie / De Munt. De Keersmaeker's latest pieces manifest a stripping down of their choreography to essential principles: spatial constraints of geometric pattern; bodily parameters of movement generation, from the utmost simplicity of walking to the fullest complexity of dancing; and close adherence to a score (musical or otherwise) for the choreographic writing. In 2013, De Keersmaeker created Vortex Temporum to the spectral music piece of the same name written in 1996 by Gérard Grisey; in 2015 she adapted it to a durational exhibition format at WIELS in Brussels, under the title Work/Travail/Arbeid, which then traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. At the beginning of 2017 De Keersmaeker was invited by the Paris Opera to direct Mozart's Così fan tutte. In August of the same year she created Mitten wir im Leben sind/Bach6Cellosuiten with the cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. Her newest choreography, set to Bach's six Brandenburg Concertos, will premiere in fall 2018. While continuing to create new pieces, De Keersmaeker has recently started revisiting Rosas' repertoire with a new generation of dancers, enabling new audiences to discover her work.
WEST SIDE STORY was written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernsteinand lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical includes "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "A Boy Like That", "One Hand, One Heart", "Gee, Officer Krupke", and "Cool".
The original 1957 Broadway production, conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances before going on tour. The production was nominated for six TONY AWARDS including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man. Robbins won the Tony Award for his choreography and Oliver Smith won for his scenic designs. The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international productions. A 1961 musical film of the same name, directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won ten, including George Chakiris for Supporting Actor, Rita Moreno for Supporting Actress, and Best Picture.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos