West Side Story and The Oscars have both left an indelible mark on the world. One is a musical set in New York City, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents; the other is an annual awards ceremony recognizing outstanding performances of actors in film roles. That might seem like a lot of information to process at once but we’ll get into more detail shortly. In the meantime, read on for more about these two brilliant creations from history!
What is West Side Story?
West Side Story is a musical about star-crossed lovers from the wrong side of the tracks. It is based on Romeo and Juliet but set in New York City. Although the story is Shakespeare’s, West Side Story is more than a simple retelling. It is a modern story with a modern soundtrack and a deeper exploration of themes of loyalty, family, and belonging. The story tells of two gangs fighting over turf but also over one boy who is torn between two very different girls. West Side Story was a sensation when it was produced on Broadway in 1957. It won 10 Tony Awards and has been produced countless times since.
The Oscars: Then and Now
The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929. The event was planned as a one-off celebration for the Hollywood film industry at the end of a very long and hard-fought first year in existence. The awards were presented in a banquet held in the Blossom Room at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. It was hosted by the Academy’s president, actor, and producer Douglas Fairbanks. There were just 19 guests in attendance. The first Academy Awards were very different from today’s event. Only three prizes were given out: one for Best Outstanding Production, one for Best Unique and Artistic Picture, and one for Best Title Writing. There were no host, no red carpet, and no live television broadcast.
Why is West Side Story so important?
West Side Story is a revolutionary musical that pushed the boundaries of what a musical could be. The music is beyond Broadway, pop music, and expectation. West Side Story also gave us some of the most iconic moments in musical history. The “Dance at the Gym” sequence is the epitome of a movie musical. The “Tonight” song is one of the most recognizable songs of all time. The musical also brought opera to Broadway notably with the role of Maria, which was originally sung by an opera soprano rather than a traditional musical theatre singer. This opened up Broadway to new audiences and helped bridge the gap between live theatre and opera.
Where are the songs from West Side Story?
The songs from West Side Story are some of the most beloved in musical theatre history. Here are a few of the most popular numbers from the show: “Something’s Coming” - “Something’s Coming” is the show’s opening number. This is where we first meet the two main characters of the show: Tony and Maria. “Maria” - “Maria” is the show’s main love song. Tony sings this to Maria, but it also doubles as a piece of foreshadowing. “I Feel Pretty” - “I Feel Pretty” is a hilarious song about a woman who feels ugly for most of her life until one day she wakes up feeling beautiful. “America” - “America” is the show’s finale. It is a beautiful song about finding belonging and hope in a new place.
Best scene in West Side Story
The best scene in the musical might be a tie between one of the fights between the Jets and the Sharks and the “Dance at the Gym” sequence. The fights are incredibly brutal but are followed by the incredible “Cool” number. The “Dance at the Gym” sequence is a glorious piece of cinematography. It is a sequence where the music and the visuals combine to create a magical experience. The “Dance at the Gym” sequence is a perfect example of the beautiful choreography of this show. It is also a perfect example of how the camera and the lighting are used to enhance the magic of the moment.
West Side Story is a show with a reputation for greatness. It is often described as the show that saved musical theatre. It proved that musicals could be more than just fluff or escapism. The show tackled hard issues that were being discussed in the world around it at the time of its production. It was very much a part of its time. West Side Story is a brilliant example of what a great team can create when they are working together to create something new and beautiful.