Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

‘West Side Story’ Originally Concerned with Jewish/Catholic Tension

WestSideStory.jpgI took my children to see an excellent revival of “West Side Story” yesterday and was happy to behold that they gave the show a standing ovation (kids generally love standing ovations). I drove home singing songs from the world-famous musical aloud until the kids politely asked me to shut up, and then I continued to sing “Somewhere” and “Tonight” in my head for many more hours, thinking that Leonard Bernstein was so inspired, so alive, so connected to creative force when he wrote those songs that he must have felt on fire!
I later researched the musical’s history online and discovered that this replaying of the Romeo/Juliet story was originally intended to be sculpted around the romance of an Irish Catholic boy and a Holocaust-surviving Jewish girl on an Easter-Passover weekend!
How interesting! Here’s Wikipedia’s write-up:


In 1949, [playwright] Arthur Laurents and [director, choreographer] Jerome Robbins planned to write a modern story, based on Romeo and Juliet, for a new musical called “Gangway,” which was later changed to “East Side Story” – a Shakespearean conflict set in New York City slums. Taking place on the east side of Manhattan, the plot was to focus on a young Italian-American Catholic boy who falls in love with a Jewish girl who has survived the Holocaust and immigrated from Israel to America. It was to be set during the Easter-Passover weekend celebration. The conflict was to be centered around anti-semitism of the Catholic “Jets” and resentment of the Jews or “Emeralds” (a name that made its way into the script as a reference). But the creators came to feel that the story was already dated and that its themes had already been covered in plays like “Abie’s Irish Rose,” and so the piece was shelved – for almost five years. In 1954, upon seeing a new wave of migration from Puerto Rico and reading news of gang wars, Laurents changed the characters’ background: the lead, Anton, changed from an Italian-American to a Polish-American, and Maria changed from a Jew to a Puerto Rican.

Folks needing to work out Jewish/Christian tensions would have to wait until 1964 for “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tradition!

Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Chattering Mind. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Inspiration Report Happy Reading!!!   ...

posted 9:09:39am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

CM's Final Posts: You Can Fill the Space
Eighteen years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine that got me called in for a taped interview with a Fox TV morning news anchor. Being an effective communicator and a skillful public speaker was a dream of mine at the time. And still ...

posted 3:14:59pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Websites to Visit, Blogs to Read
Here are some blogs and websites I like. It's not a complete list. But it's a start. The first is called New Moon Journal and it is written by Michele Bailey-Lessirard, a life coach, collage artist, and "shamanic astrologer." On the opening page ...

posted 1:24:03pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Still Posted at My Desk
"Take off from here. And don't be so earnest, let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes. Let go, let fly, forget. You've listened long enough. Now strike your note." From "Station Island," by Seamus Heaney ...

posted 1:13:33pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

And Finally, This:
Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. Remain all the time steadfast in the heart, in the Transcendental Absolute. God knows the past, present and future. He will determine the future for you and ...

posted 11:30:38am Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.