West Side Story Suite

Music: Leonard Bernstein ("Prologue," "Something’s Coming," "Dance at the Gym," "Cool," "America," "Rumble," and "Somewhere Ballet," from West Side Story, 1957)
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Choreography: Jerome Robbins with Peter Genarro
Staging: Jean-Pierre Frohlich and Elyse Borne
Vocal Coaching: Joan Barber
Scenic Design: Oliver Smith
Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Duration: 36 minutes
Premiere: May 18, 1995: New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 12, 2009

The 2009 PNB premiere of Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite was generously underwritten by Marcella McCaffray, Lyndall Boal, Carl & Renee Behnke, and Aya Stark Hamilton.

PNB Company dancers in West Side Story Suite.
Photo © Angela Sterling

With a book written by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, the musical West Side Story is one of the most popular theatrical productions based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Set on Manhattan's Upper West Side in the mid-1950s, West Side Story explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Tony, who belongs to the native Manhattan gang, the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theater.

The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, marked Stephen Sondheim's Broadway debut. The production earned a Tony Award in 1957 for Robbins' choreography. The musical led to the innovative, award-winning 1961 musical film, winning 10 Academy Awards out of 11 nominations, including Best Director, for Robbins and Robert Wise, and Best Picture. Jerome Robbins extracted a sequence of dances from West Side Story to make this suite for New York City Ballet in 1995.


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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