Our exclusive, behind-the-scenes interviews with the West Side Story dancers.
HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) – West Side Story, the 1961 musical directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, is film adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name. The story line, young lovers from warring families, is a re-telling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. West Side Story version starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris. The film was released on October 18, 1961, through United Artists, received praise from critics and the public, and became the second highest grossing film of the year in the United States. West Side Story won ten Academy Awards in its eleven nominated categories, including Best Picture, as well as a special award for Robbins. West Side Story holds the distinction of having won more Academy Awards than any other musical film.
The book Our Story: Jets & Sharks, Then and Now, as told by Cast Members from the Movie [Outskirts Press] tells the story of the West Side Story dancers from a first person perspective. These are compelling, behind the scenes stories by different people with divergent viewpoints.
The Broadway Jets, who stormed New York’s Great Wide Way in the 1957 production, included some veteran dancers and a couple of guys better known for their other musical theatre activities.
The Hollywood Jets were, indeed, fated to stay Jets to their last dying day. Drawn together in 1961, the screen group was a mixed lot: some were Broadway originals or replacements, some were from the tour of the London Company, a couple were from Robbins’ 1954 musical, Peter Pan, and others simply wandered in and auditioned.
West Side Story (the film) celebrates its 50th anniversary with a deluxe, high definition Blu-ray edition. Many of the film’s dancers have aged like fine wine and some are still recognized by fans today.
Herald de Paris’ Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez had the opportunity to sit for a series of exclusive and in-depth interviews, West Side Stories, with five of the West Side Story film dancers – and authors of the “Our Story” book:
Maria Jimenez Henley (Teresita)
Bert Michaels (Snowboy)
Carole D’ Andréa (Velma)
Robert Banas (Joyboy)
Gina Trikonis (Graziella)