A little history
Romeo and Juliet… but with a Latin beat. It wasn’t the first idea for the project that became West Side Story, but it was the one that stuck.
The doomed love story between a Puerto Rican girl and an All-American boy struck a nerve, both for its gritty, true-to-life storyline and its inventive music. It changed the genre forever, lifting the bar for other creators.
In 1949 up-and-coming choreographer Jerome Robbins was thinking about a modern take on Romeo and Juliet. He got Leonard Bernstein (music) and Arthur Laurents (book) on board.
But their initial idea, where a Catholic boy and Jewish girl fell in love, felt stale. They abandoned the project. Five years later, Bernstein and Laurents read news reports of gang violence between Puerto Rican and Anglo-American street kids. They were inspired. East Side Story became West Side Story.