A timeless tale travels to Fort Collins

Cover of "West Side Story (Full Screen Ed...
Cover of West Side Story (Full Screen Edition)

Described on its website as the best romance ever, “West Side Story” is a musical modernization of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and its score is the stuff of show tune legend.

A national tour of the show will perform tonight and tomorrow at the Lincoln Center Performance Hall. According to WestSideStoryOnTour.com, the iconic music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim has revolutionized Broadway for the past 50 years.

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According to David Saint, the director of the revival, he has collaborated for 14 years directly with the writer of the original book, Arthur Laurents, directing seven premieres of his works at Saint’s New Jersey theater, the George Street Playhouse.

“Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, the two remaining living creators of the original masterpiece, wanted to ‘revise’ it or ‘revive’ it with an eye and ear towards dusting off the period feel and bringing its timeless emotional appeal full throttle to the present,” Saint said.

To that end, this interpretation of the production features a more serious, realistic portrayal of the gangs, opening a commentary on a society that forces young people to become gangsters in the first place, with the characters in the Puerto Rican gang speaking Spanish to each other.

Michelle Alves, the actress who plays Anita, has been a background dancer for 12 years and entered the field of musical theater at age 19, having dreamed of playing Anita since she was five years-old and saw the 1961 film adaptation of “West Side Story” starring Natalie Wood.

“To prepare for the part, I stopped watching the movie two years ago,” Alves said. “This is the second year of the tour. I didn’t want to copy the beautiful film roles, and I wanted to bring my own character. I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I want to give justice to the show and represent my culture.”

Alves said audiences can expect to have the time of their lives reconnecting with a time-honored story that still explores contemporary issues among Hispanic Americans and includes Tony Award-winning musical numbers, as well as a flawless script.

According to Emily Stewart, a CSU sophomore majoring in music therapy, she is interested in seeing the production because of the movie’s classic status, in addition to having played cello in the past for an orchestral mashup of the songs.

“I’d go for the music and the flashy dances,” Stewart said. “It’d be cool to see live.”

Regular pricing for tickets costs $53, or $49 for groups who bundle. Tonight’s set takes place at 7:30 p.m., and tomorrow’s are at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It is recommended for theatergoers 13 years of age or older, what with its strong language, violence, and sensitive subject matter.

“West Side Story” may be vintage, but it is not outdated, and it will never be irrelevant. Half a century later, its songful love story is still a standard for Broadway enthusiasts everywhere, and it will be, forever.

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Collegian Entertainment Reporter Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.