Shereen Pimentel and Isaac Cole Powell as Maria and Tony.
Photo: Adam Rodriguez/Jan Versweyveld
In the Sharks versus Jets standoff between the version of West Side Story that was being revived on Broadway and the version of West Side Story that’s supposed to be coming to movie theaters, only the movie version will be around this fall. Today, producer Kate Horton announced that the Broadway revival of the classic musical will not return as the theater industry prepares to reopen. “This difficult and painful decision comes after we have explored every possible path to a successful run, and unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, reopening is not a practical proposition,” Horton said in a statement. “We thank all the brilliant, creative artists who brought West Side Story to life at the Broadway Theatre, even for so brief a time, especially the extraordinary acting company, 33 of whom made their Broadway debuts in this production.”
The revival was directed by Ivo van Hove, featuring the Dutch theater-maker’s trademark experimentation onstage with a chopped-down version of the script, and live video and water onstage. The production was at the center of infamous producer Scott Rudin’s suite of Broadway productions, though Rudin stepped away from his role as a producer this summer, amid widespread accusations of his abusive behavior in the workplace. With Rudin (sort of) out of producing duties, many of his other productions have made plans to return to their theaters with new management, including the Hugh Jackman–starring Music Man (now led by Horton), The Book of Mormon, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lehman Trilogy. (Rudin’s revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Laurie Metcalf, meanwhile, was one of the first to close during the pandemic.)
The revival was controversial even before the pandemic, with its casting of dancer Amar Ramasar as Bernardo, which prompted protests outside the Broadway Theatre. Ramasar was suspended from the New York City Ballet in 2018 for sharing nude photos of other female dancers without their consent, and then later reinstated after intervention from an arbitrator. In response to protests, the West Side Story revival issued a statement in support of him.
The production opened on February 20, 2020, and played a total of 78 previews and 24 performances. Due to the ever-quirky rules of the 2019–2020 Tony Awards eligibility, which cut off shows that opened after February 19, no one involved in West Side Story is eligible for those awards.