(Originally Posted on Wix.com, on March 11, 2017)
We recently watched West Side Story in Orchestra Class (part of the curriculum or something) instead of playing our instruments. It was very unique… and very interesting. West Side Story is a musical that borrows its plot from the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I had mixed feelings about West Side Story – especially the ending.
The storyline is very nice, I liked the whole “two gangs” idea, and the songs are all amazing. The sights and sounds of the play are just spectacular. The ending is the only thing I probably disliked.
In the original story, Romeo and Juliet, there are two feuding families that really hate each other. Despite this, two characters (Romeo/Juliet) from opposing families secretly fall in love. In Romeo and Juliet, both leads die. In West Side Story, the character parallel to Juliet, named Maria, still lives. However, the character parallel to Romeo, named Tony, dies anyway. In West Side Story, the leaders of both feuding groups also are killed, unlike in Romeo and Juliet.
The West Side Story ending makes me feel just as horrible as a viewer as the original play did, and isn’t nearly as effective. In Romeo and Juliet, the two families are able to resolve their problems and create peace once they realize their errors once they see what their feud has done. In West Side Story, the two feuding sides are temporarily stopped when their leaders die and then they continue to rip at each other.
Fun fact: The Lion King 2 was based off Romeo and Juliet, and they changed the ending so both characters lived. It was a very good movie, but I’m probably biased. I loved the Original Lion King and I love lions.
Tony (Romeo) killed Maria’s (Juliet’s) brother with a knife and Maria is okay with that, for some reason. Then, a member of the opposing gang, despite seeing what this feud has done, goes after Tony with a gun and shoots him. The two rival gangs appear, and the only way Maria can stop them is to threaten them with a gun!
Although the ending was just as sad and not as effective, the musical itself was pretty fantastic. The songs and dances were very delightful, and the actors/actresses were very skilled and fit for their roles. Especially during the fights between gangs, the acting, songs, and snapping were wonderfully done. The whole play was very charming, and enjoyable to watch up until the end. The end… I believe because they planned to change the ending, they should have kept both main characters alive and well. This would have made it much happier. Still, an enjoyable watch.
I believe that in any future edition of West Side Story, we should keep poor Tony alive.