West Side Story [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
Classical composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein periodically had tried his hand at writing Broadway musicals, starting with On the Town (1944) and continuing with Wonderful Town, (1953), not to mention, less than a year earlier, Candide, a musically magnificent, dramatically unsuccessful effort. But none of these was as ambitious as West Side Story, a score that is infused with Bernstein's classical sensibility, even as it deliberately draws in influences from jazz and Latin music. A contemporary retelling of Romeo & Juliet set among New York street gangs, the show combines refined and vulgar elements, and Bernstein's music revels in the contrasts, veering from the hymn-like themes he provides for the lovers' ballads (they may be Italians on one side and Puerto Ricans on the other, but they're probably all Catholics, so the religious influence is something they have in common) to the jarring rhythms that accompany the continual "rumbles" of the gangs. Newcomer lyricist Stephen Sondheim traces the same contrast in his words. For the Romeo character, here called Tony, the mere name of his Juliet, here called Maria, has religious significance: "Say it loud and there's music playing," he sings in a song called "Maria," "Say it soft and it's almost like praying." In this song, as in their duets "Tonight" and "One Hand, One Heart," Tony and Maria are not just idealistic, but idealized, and Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence embody them well. On the other hand, Sondheim fills the language of their friends with a rough slang that sometimes alludes to common obscenity (e.g., "when the spit hits the fan") and sometimes pushes the limits of language allowable on a Broadway stage in the '50s ("bastard," "S.O.B."). When they're not cursing, these characters engage in biting criticism and sarcasm. "America," a song of dueling Puerto Rican girls, one who wants to go home and one who wants to stay in Manhattan (the fiery Anita, ably played by Chita Rivera), and "Gee, Officer Krupke!," a gang's taunting of a police officer, are not just typical comic songs in a Broadway musical. They are savagely witty, marking the introduction of a lyricist on a par with Lorenz Hart or Cole Porter, at the very least. That said, however, this isn't really a lyric-oriented show, or even a character-oriented one, oddly enough. It is notable that the album cover says, "West Side Story (based on a conception of Jerome Robbins)," not "based on a play by William Shakespeare." Robbins, the show's director/choreographer, has conceived it as a dance show, and there are extended instrumental passages on this album during which the stage actors would be dancing, although one only hears them shouting occasionally and snapping their fingers. Powerful as Bernstein's music is, and clever as Sondheim's lyrics are, West Side Story is largely about dancing, which means that only a portion of it can be appreciated on disc. That is enough, however, to mark it as a landmark among Broadway cast albums as well as Broadway musicals.
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Performance CreditsCarol Lawrence Vocals,Track Performer
Marilyn Cooper Vocals,Track Performer
Larry Kert Vocals,Track Performer
Chita Rivera Vocals,Track Performer
Lee Becker Vocals
Mickey Calin Vocals,Track Performer
Grover Dale Vocals,Track Performer
Tony Mordente Vocals
Eddie Roll Vocals,Track Performer
David Winters Vocals
Elizabeth Taylor Vocals,Track Performer
Carmen Guiterrez Vocals
West Side Story Cast Ensemble Choir, Chorus
West Side Story Pit Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Ken Le Roy Vocals
Reri Grist Vocals,Track Performer
Art Smith Vocals
Technical CreditsStephen Sondheim Lyricist
Goddard Lieberson Producer
Mort Goode Liner Notes
Jerome Robbins Concept
Arthur Laurents Book
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Really, there is nothing negative you can say about the beautiful, moving, powerful, and sometimes hilarious music. It has been said that Lenard Bernstein's score will never be equaled. Whatever the case, West Side Story will go down in history as one of the greatest and most influential musicals of all time.
The Music in West Side Story soars. The melodies are beautiful and SO much fun to sing and the lyrics are incredible. Everything is so poetic and fun about these songs. The soundtrack is a must have... The story does parallel Romeo and Juliet but it is completely different. There are so many good things I could say about this show it's clearly an all time favorite.
this was a great cast recording! i love all the songs....and the voices are awesome
One of my all time favorites. Now I have updated to CD format.
Very moving especially Reri Griest Singing Somewhere None can compare, Bonus tracks outstanding
I purchased this CD by accident - I really wanted the music from the movie. It is a great CD, yet it didn't meet my requirements - I fall in love with the music from whatever source I first hear it, and since I never saw the original Broadway musical, this isnt' the music I was looking for. For those who seek the original Broadway musical, you will be delighted.
This show has the most gorgeous music! It is a modern tale of Romeo and Juliet and is a classic love story about tolerance for different races, etc. I would also suggest seeing it.
West Side Story is known for being one of the most popular musicals of all time. The only thing better than the show itself, is the Leonard Bernstein score. The music in this show is incredible and will be loved by generation upon generation! However, this specific cast is not that spectacular, there being one exception - the amazing Chita Rivera, who plays the part of Anita.