Warning: there will be spoilers – many of which are exaggerated to make a point. If you’ve never seen it, it’s ultra sad. By the end, every character is dead or miserable, which is more like a kick-everyone-in-the-eyes rendition than a “story”. Oh hey Riff, maybe you should have left that knife at home LIKE YOU SAID YOU WOULD. That goes double for your, Ber-nard-o.
A few weeks ago, West Side Story came through Kansas. A big show on a big bus in the Little Apple. In its traveling form, I got to see the musical (for the first time) straight from one Manhattan to another.
And it was amazing. Broadway actors never cease to drop my jaw with their ability to sing, act, and dance – all why donning what I can only assume are super fake accents. Meanwhile I’m just staring away, wondering how in the heck such a production comes to be. And while I have an entire list of questions about logistics (How much does it cost to bring in a show? How grueling are practice schedules? What’s it like coming to towns for a single show?), that’s not what this post is about. Instead, it covers fight dancing, 50s stereotypes, all the sweet daddio sayings, and Tony’s premonitions.
Modern-Day Discrepancies in Musicals
When Hairspray came out on film, I remember watching it with my family. In the very first scene a way-too-hyper Tracy Turnblad comes out singing about her morning; my brother sighed heavily, said “Oh man, is she going to do that every time she wakes up?” and then left to view something less peppy.
West Side Story kind of has the same feel – where they dance with this ultra choreographed “fighting.” And you think, if that was really what fighting was like, I’d do it every day. So long as no one dislocates an elbow from snapping too hard. Just imagine all the exercise you could get from fake kicking the crap out of each other, but without any pain. Sure it’s borderline cheesy, but there’s nothing like bringing someone to the ground with zero impact – then yelling insensitive slurs that lead to a rumble. (Probably, anyway.)
Except, at rumbles, girls aren’t allowed. And if you try to join in and call your friends (who always treat you like crap) “buddy boys”, they will tell you to “go wear a skit.” But because it’s pre-title nine, everyone thinks it’s a good jab and not something that will get you restrained with burned-up bras.
Other Notes from the Show
- Tony would have made a crappy psychic. While he knew something great was coming, “something good,” it didn’t turn out that well on account of him becoming a murderer and dead in the same day.
- A day is not enough time for a whirlwind romance, let alone a secret wedding. Did they even talk about future plans? Or views on property ownership? Or anything important?!
- Anybodys probably runs a marathon a week between practices and shows. Seriously, she is always running.
- Action is the absolute worst character. Like, Biff Tannen or Neidermeyer bad.
And if anyone knows where I can sign up for fake fight lessons (or 50s lingo lessons), please let me know. I’ll sign up tomorrow.