Thursday, May 21, 2009

The gang's all here

The May television sweeps are over and drivel has returned to the tube. Ordinary drivel, not the blockbuster, hyped stuff we’ve been seeing for the past four weeks. I wanted background noise as I did the dishes so I clicked through the channels and hit a bonanza.

West Side Story.

Oh, stop wincing. This isn’t ordinary musical theatre, this is Bernstein and Sondheim retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet. With amazing choreography by Jerome Robbins, timeless songs and score, cultural differences, forbidden love…and the Jets and the Sharks!

I can remember as a kid dancing through the house (when no one was around), snapping my fingers and singing:

When you’re a jet/
You’re a jet all the way/
From you first cigarette/
To your last dying day.
When you’re a jet/
Let them do what they can/
You got brothers around/
You’re a family man.
(snap, snap)

Honestly, I don’t know how I remember those lyrics. I don’t think there is another song, other than maybe a couple of Christmas carols, where I know more than one line.

Whenever I’m in a really low mood and trying to convince myself that things are looking up, I always seem to find myself humming…

Something’s coming/
I don’t know what it is/
But it is/
Gonna be good.

How many millions of girls, young and old, have stood in front of a mirror singing:

I feel pretty/
Or so pretty/
I fell pretty and witty and bright.
And I pity/
Any girl who isn’t me tonight.

And how could you not tap your toe, shake your shoulders, and get your groove on when the Puerto Rican gang and their girlfriends gather on the rooftop at the dance to musically debate the benefits of living in the U.S.? The colors, the swishing skirts, the men in tight pants! Relive the thrill by clicking here to see Rita Moreno lead the fun in a rousing rendition of “America”.

I’m going to skip over the sad parts, because I think the ending is truly gut wrenching. Let’s just remember the pleasure of it. Play the songs in your head and tell me… what’s your favorite? Sing it for me!

Jet Song
Something’s Coming
I feel Pretty
One Hand, One Heart
Gee, Officer Krupke



Anonymous said...

We did end of year shows in my high school and one of ours featured a bunch of West Side Story stuff. I still remember those songs. The show also included Monkees songs, folk songs and nasty 1980s hits. Yup.

drollgirl said...

don't kill me, but i've never seen it. i think you are telling me to get off my culture-less ass and see it already. okaaaaaaaaaaaay. i will do it. for you. just for you.

and i can't dance for shit, so this might be a bit of torture for me to see, knowing i can never be what they are. wah.

Utah Savage said...

It's a great film. I saw it at a big fancy movie theater in Salt Lake with the guy would end up being my husband ten years later. And I know the lyrics to every song.

Utah Savage said...

Your family looks quite a lot like mine. Nice photos.

Ribbon said...

You are a beautiful romantic..

I'm still laughing from the previous post of celebrities.

I've had a fun time here tonight.

thank you

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I loved West Side Story. Now excuse me while I go and dance through the house singing I Feel Pretty!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

orcalover said...

I'm a big fan of musicals and I've seen West Side Story often and I collect soundtracks.

It's a toss up between Maria and Tonight that I remember. But, my all time favorite musical is Fiddler on the Roof.

I'll be adding your blog to my blog roll soon.

Anonymous said...

Brought back fond memories. I played leading roles in musicals back in High School and college. Great fun!

Glad to see some of my Free Spirit readers taking my cue and dropping in today. :)

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Helen said...

The songs I remember are the ones that were on the radio.

I'm Henry the Eighth, I am...
Henry the Eighth, I am, I am...
I got married to the widow next door
She's been married seven times before...

I know all the words.

Straight From Hel

Lola said...

Bob Fosse was the choreographer of some of Hollywood's and Broadway's greatest musicals. That last image you posted of West Side Story captures his style perfectly. He was a genius.

Great post, as usual Patrizia.

lakeviewer said...

Westside Story, right at the top of the list. We all grew up singing those lyrics.

ds said...

Where to start? This is the Long-Suffering's favorite musical of all time; we have every possible version on CD: original soundtrack, movie soundtrack, and the one produced by various artists--rappers to Phil Collins to everyone in-between--as a tribute to Bernstein and Sondheim. Favorite song? Me: Somewhere. Him: Maria (he likes the backbeat). Thank you for this; I will be singing for the rest of the day.

Kathleen said...

I think the most amazing performance of West Side Story I've see to date was by high students at Southwest High School in Minneapolis, a diverse group of students who had lost 4 classmates to random acts of violence that year. Wasn't a dry eye in the house. It's a story of teens, and so I think it's best performed by them. Thanks for reminding me.

Oh, and favorite song: Maria
favorite fun song: Gee, Officer Krumpke

Great post, Pyzahn!

The Cottage Cheese said...

West Side Story is one of my favorite movies! I haven't seen it in a while, it may be time to test the fiance's true love for me and make him watch it, haha. As a girl, I would play dress up and dance around singing "I feel pretty". I always wanted the white dress with the red sash that Maria wore. I still do...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Yours is so much fun, I'm going to follow you!

Bruce said...

I gotta admit that when on one else is in the house, I have been known to crank this up along with Paint Your Wagon. It is interesting to note that the story here is pretty lame, just Shakespeare set in a different local. But what is amazing is the tour-de-force by Berstein and Sondheim. He redefined the Broadwasy Musical and Opera all at the same time. That, along with the New York 'attitude' that was at it's peak in the late 50s and you had an instant classic. If only Natalie Wood could have sung her own songs, it would have been better.