By: Diana Brang-Scott
WEST SIDE STORY is coming to the Fisher Theatre Tuesday May 13th through Sunday May 18th. It is the story of star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria who are forbidden to be together and, it follows their struggles to rise above the hatred and intolerance that is all around them. WEST SIDE STORY was inspired by Shakespeare’s greatest love story Romeo and Juliette. The original Broadway production hit the stage back in 1957. The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico are taunted by the Jets, a Polish-American working-class group. This script and score have been revamped slightly to reflect modern times, but its original message remains as powerful, poignant and timeless as ever. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.” WEST SIDE STORY is written by three theatrical luminaries: two-time Tony Award winner Arthur Laurents (book) and multiple Tony and Grammy Award winners Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) in his Broadway debut.
The Associated Press says WEST SIDE STORY “remains Broadway’s best dance-driven musical. Five decades have not dimmed the extraordinary choreography or the score that pulsates throughout.” Variety says, “The true stars of WEST SIDE STORY are Jerome Robbins’ graceful, endlessly expressive choreography and
I recently spoke to Sam Rohloff a Michigan native who was born and raised in Lansing, and graduated from Oakland University just last year. He is out on tour with the 33 member cast, and playing part of Baby John, the youngest Jet. Sam is very excited to be performing at The Fisher Theatre for the very first time, and is happy to be doing so in front of his family, friends and former faculty.
I asked Sam why he thinks this musical has stood the test of time, he said, “It’s because the problems Tony and Maria faced back in 1957 are still relevant today. The problem of finding love in a world filled with bigotry and hate still exists in today’s society. We battle all sorts of things, whether it’s your sexual orientation or the color of your skin, the problem still happens. We have come a long way since WEST SIDE STORY first hit the stage, but we still have a ways to go… this is a musical that people from any generation can relate to, the writers have revamped the script to make it still very real and relevant in today’s society, but it still has its old feel, and the music is just timeless [and] that plays a big factor as well.”
You can see Sam and the rest of the cast of the critically acclaimed WEST SIDE STORY at The Detroit Fisher Theatre staring on Tuesday May 13th.
Tickets are available and range from $36 – $76 (includes parking and facility fees) at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.broadwayindetroit.com and at the Fisher Theatre box office.