Powerful West Side Story Group Dance Set Made in 15 Years: The DONG-A ILBO

The scene depicts the slums of Manhattan, New York. Polish gang, the Jets fight with the Puerto Rican gang of the Sharks. Tony (a member of the Jets, played by Kim Junsoo, Park Kanghyun and Ko Eun-seong) dances with Maria (played by Han Jae-a, Lee Ji-soo), the younger sister of Shark frontman Bernado (played by Kim Chan -ho and Lim Jeong-mo) at a dance party hosted by the NYPD. The story unfolds as the couple fall in love.

Musical West Side Story, which opened last Thursday at the Chungmoo Art Center in Jung-gu, Seoul, will reunite with Korean fans 15 years after playing in 2007. The original story of the musical, which played at Broadway New York for the first time in 1957, comes from the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The Jets and Sharks are modern versions of the Montagues and Capulets, while Tony and Maria play Romeo and Juliet.

West Side Story is also famous for the involvement of the best creators of the time. Arthur Laurents, who is well known for writing Alfred Hitchcock’s chord, wrote the screenplay, and composer Leonard Bernstein, who conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Golden Age, wrote the music. Steven Sondheim, the original creator of the Sweeney Todd musical, wrote the lyrics. Jerome Robbins, named New York City Ballet’s second artistic director, oversaw production and choreography.

The story describes how love finds its way through the arguments, hatred and rage between the two gangs. Tony and Maria’s love creates a huge divide that turns into tragedy. The story follows that of Romeo and Juliet, but the songs and choreography add uniqueness and a special touch. The outstanding singing performance of the actors, including Kim Jun-soo, Park Kang-hyun, and Kim So-hyang) provide excellent rendition of the songs. Music from the 20-person orchestra fills the performance hall.

Dance is essential in West Side Story, known as one of the first dance musicals. Even the actors of the ensemble are responsible for performing their dances. The Jets and Sharks ensemble group dance at the start of Act 1 is particularly breathtaking. The Jets in blue and the Sharks in red perform a powerful and energizing group dance. The dance resembles acrobatics and is performed in large, sophisticated movements. One regret is that the choreography is so demanding that it leaves the actors out of breath after the dance broadcast on the microphone. The musical will be performed until February 26, 2023. Ticket prices are 70,000 to 160,000 won.

Ji-Hoon Lee easyhoon@donga.com

About Roy B. Westling

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