Sunday, December 12, 2021

West Side Story 2021

 



1961 2021
Tony Richard Beymer (voice:  Jimmy Bryant) Ansel Elgort
Maria (Bernardo's sister) Natalie Wood (voice:  Marni Nixon) Rachel Zegler
Anita (Bernardo's girlfriend) Rita Moreno (voice:  Betty Wand) Ariana DeBose
Bernardo (head Shark)
George Chakiris David Alvarez
Riff (head Jet)
Russ Tamblyn (voice:  Tucker Smith) Mike Faist
Officer Krupke William Bramley Brian d'Arcy James
Lieutenant Schrank Simon Oakland  Corey Stoll
Doc's shop keeper Ned Glass as Doc Rita Moreno as Valentina  

These are comparative cast lists for the two movie versions of Bernstein's West Side Story.  The lyrics are by Sondheim.  All the main roles were dubbed in the 1961 movie while none were in the new one.  Voice:  means the name of the person who is actually singing.  I was fascinated to see Rita Moreno sang here but was dubbed in the earlier version.  Curious.  After all, Rita has a Grammy.

If you were paying attention, at the very beginning they are talking about urban renewal in that part of New York City and show a photo of Lincoln Center which opened in 1962.  The film showed street signs from that neighborhood.  So there was a slum there before it was torn down.  I liked all the old cars seen parked in the street.  This is my era, apparently.

I enjoyed this remake and found it very emotional.  The dancing was top quality and very professional, but the same cannot be said for the singing.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if the volume was turned up a bit.  The singing wasn't bad, just insignificant.  Live in the theater it would be louder because the cast would be chosen partly for their singing and then amplified. 

There was a lot of untranslated Spanish with quite a lot of "Speak English" remarks.  I only know tiny bits of Spanish.  The story was darker and more violent.

In my review of West Side Story at the Sacramento Music Circus I said, "The way the production looks is how the story is told.  One group runs quickly off the stage and is replaced by another.  'Who are these people?' is a question that should be instantly answered." It was at the Music Circus, but it was not here.  It was no easy trick to tell the two groups apart.  I found this a particular problem.

Tony loses his cool for a moment and changes everything.  This is the heart of the story.  One should see it again.  Don't miss this.  The young man who plays Tony is particularly beautiful.

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