Monday, May 26, 2014

There's No Water To Put Out The Fire

Illustration By Ellinor Forje 

I watched a contemporary stage production of "West Side Story" a few years ago. I'm not going to say when and where because I don't want to put people on the spot. Not that it sucked. It was good. Not great. Entertaining. But not entertaining enough for me to get past the fact that I didn't like the costumes. The Sharks and the Jets dressed in leather and lace - I wasn't feeling it. Sorry.

I think the theater director was confused and figured that the best way to portray ethnicity, gang affiliation and rising tension was to be put the performers in clothes which in their mind would highlight the conflict. The problem being that subcultures aren't as narrowly defined in the millennium as they were 50 years ago. That is, sub/urban kids wear studs and mohawks, too. It doesn't necessarily make them menaces either.

That's probably the beauty of the original version (man I wish I'd been around to see it on Broadway!) and the screen adapted musical (1961) both composed by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim with choreography by Jerome Robbin and a Romeo and Juliet-type story conceived by Arthur Laurents. In their point of view, the contrast is through reflections of the culture and generation.

Martin Scorsese picked this up when directing MJ's "Bad" in 1987. MJ picked it up for most of  his career to an extent that has me believe half  his wardrobe and physical appearance is based on the character Bernardo played by George Chakiris.

And I loved Rita Moreno's, I mean, Anita's lavender dress, on a seperate note.

1 comment:

  1. I wish they'd make more musicals like they did in the golden period.