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WEST SIDE STORY (2019 Revival) Preview Thread

SisterGeorge
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West Side Story#751
Posted: 2/7/20 at 5:34pm

"I appreciate this point but that isnt the story here. Its *specific* to racial animus towardsPuerto Rican immigrants, and *specific* to their mistrust of the Americans who treated them so poorly. That text is still there. Youre hitting the nail on the head: they are de-specifying the context, generalizing it- like when someone takes away the specific traumas/controversies of African Americans or Jews in place of "general intolerance"- it muddies it. The more I think about it the more it seems a grave misstep.

I'm so used to the tension in opera and classical theater between what is being said/sung and the production's period setting and actions that this wasn't a deal-breaker for me. I'm thrilled that Ivo is treating WSS like the theatrical classic that it is, opening it up to new and different interpretations.

About Mr. Powell's performance schedule, does anyone know if it is set in advance or determined on an "as-needed" basis.

 

brian1973
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West Side Story#752
Posted: 2/7/20 at 10:21pm

This was really great. Yes, some aspects don’t work, but it is an exciting and original take on a classic. 
 

the 2 leads are great. Elliot Powell is funny, gawky and charming. While he doesn’t have the strongest voice, it’s beautiful.  Shereen Pimatel sings gloriously and acts wonderfully too. 

Yesenia Ayala is INCREDIBLE. She dances up a storm and I really hope she wins a Tony for this.

What let’s it down is some of the acting and singing of the male members of the gangs. It’s wonderful that so many are having their broadway debuts with this, but some are simply not up to the standard a broadway demands.

 

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BenElliott
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West Side Story#753
Posted: 2/7/20 at 11:19pm

JBroadway said: "Anshel2 said: "A balcony scene without a balcony!"



Maybe Van Hove was trying to go back to the historical Shakespearean roots of the "balcony scene" in Romeo & Juliet, which, in reality, was not written to be performed with a balcony. The use of a balcony in that scene was a tradition that developed after Shakespeare's day!
"

I'm pretty sure this isn't true.  The onstage balcony was a common feature in Elizabethan era theatres and were commonly used in the original staging of many of his plays.

The Tonight balcony staging in this version was laughably bizarre with them goofily running laps.  Just so bad.  While Oklahoma! was radically reinvented, it had a ton of weight and life.  This just felt rushed, lifeless, and cold with a ton of really bad choices.

 

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BJR
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West Side Story#754
Posted: 2/7/20 at 11:26pm
If either one of you are gonna claim R&J must have a balcony, links please.

As for WSS, now it doesn’t have one. So, that’s 3/4.
Dolly80
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West Side Story#755
Posted: 2/7/20 at 11:32pm
Can’t believe people are hung up about a bloody balcony. Get a grip!
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Luminaire2
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West Side Story#756
Posted: 2/8/20 at 1:19am
Well since the thread is gone. There was another protest tonight. They’ve moved the line to get into the theatre so there is less interaction with audience and protestors.
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JBradshaw
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West Side Story#757
Posted: 2/8/20 at 2:38am
kinda shocked no one yet has mentioned/commented on five rows of the audience being soaked in fake blood

https://pagesix.com/2020/02/07/west-side-story-audience-sprayed-with-fake-blood/
bk
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West Side Story#758
Posted: 2/8/20 at 3:55am

Luminaire2 said: "Well since the thread is gone. There was another protest tonight. They’ve moved the line to get into the theatre so there is less interaction with audience and protestors."

Oh, but thanks for keeping the non-story alive.  I'm sure it was a huge protest, too, with the usual teens.

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BenElliott
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West Side Story#759
Posted: 2/8/20 at 8:27am

Dolly80 said: "Can’t believe people are hung up about a bloody balcony. Get a grip! "

I don't see anyone hung up on a balcony.  The lack of a balcony isn't what made this production's staging of the Tonight scene bad.  I actually like the idea of that scene being done without a balcony, but to have them aimlessly run laps with a distracting video playing behind them and then have the two gangs cartoonishly pull them apart was pretty terrible.

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TotallyEffed
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West Side Story#760
Posted: 2/8/20 at 11:52am

How has attendance been? Does the show offer refunds if the leads are out? I'm very hesitant to buy a ticket.

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Luminaire2
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West Side Story#761
Posted: 2/8/20 at 2:17pm

bk said: "Luminaire2 said: "Well since the thread is gone. There was another protest tonight. They’ve moved the line to get into the theatre so there is less interaction with audience and protestors."

Oh, but thanks for keeping the non-story alive. I'm sure it was a huge protest, too, with the usual teens.
"

From the photos on twitter I saw, another decent sized group. Majority being young women exercising their rights to protest. 

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joevitus
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West Side Story#762
Posted: 2/8/20 at 2:26pm

BenElliott said: "JBroadway said: "Anshel2 said: "A balcony scene without a balcony!"



Maybe Van Hove was trying to go back to the historical Shakespearean roots of the "balcony scene" in Romeo & Juliet, which, in reality, was not written to be performed with a balcony. The use of a balcony in that scene was a tradition that developed after Shakespeare's day!
"

I'm pretty sure this isn't true. The onstage balcony was a common feature in Elizabethan era theatres and were commonly used in the original staging of many of his plays.

"

I'm not sure about this, myself. The Globe stage had an upper level l and of course "windows" on either side of the stage that could be used as Juliet's balcony. When I was studying theater, we were shown how easy it is to stage all the scenes in Romeo and Juliet within the structure of the Globe performing area in a way that requires multiple complex sets in our more recent, but theoretically "traditional"  (19th century-born) concept of sets placed within a box-like stage.

CopleyScott17
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West Side Story#763
Posted: 2/8/20 at 2:28pm

Aw, c'mon, folks, for the most part this thread has been a really substantive, engaging, energetic conversation, about the actual show, both pro and con.  They already had to shut down one thread.  Can we please not ruin this one?

Jarethan
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West Side Story#764
Posted: 2/8/20 at 3:32pm

TotallyEffed said: "How has attendance been? Does the show offer refunds if the leads are out? I'm very hesitant to buy a ticket."

Every single performance to date has been sold out.  Since the leads are not billed above the title, they will not give a refund.  They MAY be willing to let you exchange for another date, but no refunds.  I ran into this when Andy Karl was out of Rocky (talk about the leading role) and when Damon Duanno was out of Oklahoma.  With Karl, I did see him eventually, but didn't like the show anyway; with Duanno, I am an out-of-towner,so I had little flex and he was out of the alternate performance as well, so I never saw him.  Luckily, he sings incredibly on the OCR.

 
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imeldasturn
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West Side Story#765
Posted: 2/8/20 at 4:18pm

joevitus said: "BenElliott said: "JBroadway said: "Anshel2 said: "A balcony scene without a balcony!"



Maybe Van Hove was trying to go back to the historical Shakespearean roots of the "balcony scene" in Romeo & Juliet, which, in reality, was not written to be performed with a balcony. The use of a balcony in that scene was a tradition that developed after Shakespeare's day!
"

I'm pretty sure this isn't true. The onstage balcony was a common feature in Elizabethan era theatres and were commonly used in the original staging of many of his plays.

"

I'm not sure about this, myself. The Globe stagehad an upperlevell and of course "windows" on either side of the stage that could be used as Juliet's balcony. When I was studying theater, we were shownhow easy it is to stage all the scenes in Romeo and Juliet within the structure of the Globe performing areain a way that requires multiple complex sets in our more recent, but theoretically "traditional"(19th century-born) concept of sets placed within a box-like stage.
"

Romeo and Juliet was written before the Globe was built, and the theatre in which it opened might have been different. Plus we know that the play toured the country in the late 1590s, and it might have been impossible to stage a balcony scene on an improvised stage. The balcony scene became "The Balcony Scene" probably under Garrick, since the staging of the play started incorporating elements from a late 17th century tragedy that was much more successful than the almost forgotten R&J. That said, it's not unlikely that in a public playhouse the balcony scene was staged with Juliet in the gallery over the stage, like we usually imagine it.

It's nevertheless true that they didn't have balconies in sixteenth century England, nor in most European counties with the exception of Italy. The first time the word balcony is recorded in the English language is 1618, over twenty years after R&J first performance, and it was spelled in the Italian way, "balcone". Italian balconies were described with a certain dislike in early seventeenth century travel reports, since they were thought to encourage immorality and lack of privacy. How this might have affected the original staging of the tragedy is anybody's guess, but it's technically true that Elizabethans didn't really have the concept of balcony.

cfbrrr
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joined:11/24/19
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West Side Story#766
Posted: 2/9/20 at 2:22pm

To me, whether there’s a balcony or not isn’t as problematic as there being no platforming at all. “WSS” ain’t “A Chorus Line.” It needs levels. As it is, the stagings of “Something’s Coming” and “Maria” are pathetically bad, with Tony either ambling about aimlessly or running around in circles to simulate (stimulate?) excitement. It’s not enough for Tony to sound pretty and to look as if he’s sufficiently emoting. I’ve seen many, many fully staged “WSS”s, and these solo numbers can be visual knockouts given a real set — and a real director? — to work off of. Similar thoughts, of course, affect the Tony-Maria duets.

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VotePeron
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West Side Story#767
Posted: 2/9/20 at 2:49pm

cfbrrr said: "these solo numbers can be visual knockouts given a real set — and a real director? — to work off of."

Image result for view from the bridge tony award

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WldKingdomHM
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West Side Story#768
Posted: 2/9/20 at 6:08pm
Got a rush for this afternoon. Ricky was on for Bernardo. I thought the show was beautiful and excellent. Props to everyone on that stage.
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joevitus
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West Side Story#769
Posted: 2/9/20 at 8:28pm

Imeldasturn,

Even acknowledging that the structure of the Globe wasn't unique to that theater but in fact the normal arrangement of standing theaters in that era (in fact, we guess the structure of the Globe because of a sketch of an different theater, I believe the Swan), you are right about the play also being done in locations that wouldn't allow for a upper-level-as-balcony staging. And I defer to your knowledge about when the play was written and the basic unfamiliarity of most European concepts of balconies in architecture. Very nice scholarship. 

Updated On: 2/10/20 at 08:28 PM
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poisonivy2
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West Side Story#770
Posted: 2/9/20 at 9:18pm

I always thought the cleverness of WSS was that they changed the balcony into something that is very much a part of NYC urban architecture: the fire escape. 

Tom-497
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West Side Story#771
Posted: 2/11/20 at 11:56pm

I saw this evening's performance from a good seat (right orchestra, row E). If I read the Playbill inserts correctly, the only understudy was for Bernardo.

I was surprised at how dull I found nearly the entire show. Usually, I'm annoyed when someone checks their phone, but when the woman next to me did so, I was glad to be able to find out the time (and wished it were later). 

About the only positive things I can think to say are:

- "Tonight" was excellent. Like some others here, I loved the image of Tony and Maria struggling against the crowds trying to pull them apart.

- In general, the actors playing Tony and Maria have good chemistry.

- Some of the dancing toward the end of "Cool" was exciting. 

- The rumble was also well-staged.

And I would just add that I am not in any way anti-Ivo Van Hove. I attended this revival in part because I thought he'd at least do something interesting with it.

As for the rest of the audience, it seemed to me they were quite slow to get up for the near-obligatory Broadway musical standing ovation. For a time, I thought they weren't going to. Perhaps it was just something about the staging of the show's final moments, and not an indication of any general lack of enthusiasm (though I'm not sure).

On the way out, I heard a range of comments, from "I loved it!" to "Well, it was certainly dramatic" to "It was alright."

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joevitus
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West Side Story#772
Posted: 2/13/20 at 3:40am

The "near obligatory Broadway musical standing ovation" should be outlawed. 

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East Village
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West Side Story#773
Posted: 2/14/20 at 4:02pm

Put me in the camp that was floored by this revival. I’d suggest getting tickets now because I expect the reviews for this are going to be over the top for both Ivo van Hove’s production as well as Issac Powell’s thoroughly original take on the character. (His is the performance of the year.)

It’s not you’re typical WSS. As you’ve heard, the balcony & old choreography are gone — and most of the love story is quite literally swept off stage. What’s left is a deeply political story about violence, race and the American immigrant experience.

Mr. Hove’s production is only half theater. The other half is video installation. Both must be appreciated in their proper aesthetic context (it’s not just scenery & theater projections!) Together they create a very violent portrait of a city (like this production) who’s aestheticism is quite cold & heavy-handed at times. I found Hove’s WSS begs more comparison with the New York art scene (as well as Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange) than it does with traditional movie & theater musicals.

It’s also a deeply disturbing and important revision told by an an American outsider as we see the rise of authoritarianism in our politics, violent protest fueled by a MAGA clown in the White House and uncertainty what a change in the political tide will mean for a sanctuary city like NYC.

And finally there was the rain. When was rain ever a character in a production before? I left the theater wondering whether there would ever be enough rain to wash away the stains from the past four years. 

Updated On: 2/14/20 at 04:02 PM
patrickj88
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West Side Story#774
Posted: 2/14/20 at 7:54pm

I agree... the reviews are going to be very strong for this show. Although some sections were lacking, it was a fantastic fresh revival of a show that has been done over and over. Still, I prefer a traditional version to the show.. but really enjoyed seeing the Ivo Van Hove direction.

Issac Powell is even better than he was in Once on this Island, and certainly deserve a Tony nomination.. as do many cast members.

The ruble and the dancing were terrific and strong vocals from most of the cast

And for the sake of saying it, I didn't even really miss the balcony..that scene was beautifully staged.

The show still needs some tweeks and does not flow like a traditional musical, but overall, a wonderful interpretation.

 

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West Side Story#775
Posted: 2/14/20 at 8:10pm
Saw the show last night for a second time. It’s stronger than the first time. The audience thou not so much. Basically sitting next to a lady (second row) who couldn’t see the scenes set with the video screen. She decided to fold up her seat and sit on it. The couple behind her politely asked her to please sit in her seat, and she literally turned around and said, “ FU and don’t tell me what to do”. This was during the dance at the gym, thank god.

Issac is fabulous don’t miss him in this. No understudies last night. As mention Amar got tons of boos during curtain call

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