Cast size: Large, 20 plus
Based on Conception of: Jerome Robbins Book by: Arthur Laurents Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim Music by: Leonard Bernstein Based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Arthur Laurents | broadway MUSICAL | large 20 plus

  • About the Show

    The world’s greatest love story takes to the streets in this landmark Broadway musical that is one of the theatre’s finest accomplishments.

    Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” is transported to modern-day New York City, as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.

    Highlighting the talents of a young ensemble cast, “West Side Story” has found popularity in schools as well as professional theatres throughout the world. Its exciting, sophisticated score by Bernstein and Sondheim is often considered Broadway’s finest, its songs part of the nation’s musical heritage. As originally staged by the legendary Jerome Robbins, the show is an impressive showcase for accomplished dancers (a guide featuring the original choreography is available for rental). And with a reduced orchestration and transpositions on demand, this masterpiece is easier to mount than ever before.

    Opened 9/27/1957 Ran for 732 performances.
    A superlative musical; a chiller, a thriller, as up-to-the-minute as tomorrow's headlines." -New York Mirror
    "There has never been a happier integration, a more sensitive blending of story, song and movement." - New York Journal-American"

    Some content © MTI Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Music Theatre International. Used by permission. Portions © Respective Trademark Holders. All rights reserved.


    Act One,

    In the opening, a danced Prologue, two rival teenage gangs, the Jets (Americans) and the Sharks (Puerto Ricans) enact their conflict over who will control the neighborhood. Accented by police whistles and taunting phrases, the Prologue establishes the fierce rivalry between the two groups.

    Following a brief exchange with the ineffective policeman, Lt. Schrank and Officer Krupke, Riff, the leader of the Jets, devises a plan to gain control of the street (When You're A Jet"). The members of the gang boast of their strength, restate their bond to one another and declare their intention to protect their turf.

    Riff has a harder time getting his best friend Tony to re-join the gang. Riff convinces Tony to join the Jets at the neighborhood dance where the Riff's plan will be put into motion. Tony agrees out of a sense of loyalty to Riff, but expresses his unhappiness with his current life. He feels himself growing away from the gang and envisions a different and better future ("Something's Coming").

    Maria, the sister of the Shark leader, Bernardo, has only been in America a short time. She works with Anita, Bernardo's girl friend, in the bridal shop. Anita is making Maria a dress to wear to the neighborhood dance. Maria sees this dance as the official beginning of her life in this country. Like Tony, she is full of hope. Bernardo arrives with Chino, a quiet, intense member of the Sharks. Maria's family has selected Chino to be her future husband.

    A social worker, Gladhand, introduces the rival gang members and their girls; they dance sociably for about two minutes. Then a challenge dance erupts. Tony and Maria, however, suddenly see one another. In a moment of romantic suspension, they dance together, oblivious of the tension around them. They fall in love. The romantic idyll is interrupted when Bernardo roughly pulls Maria from Tony's arms. Maria is sent home, as Riff and Bernardo arrange a War Council at the drugstore.

    Unaware of the plan between the two leaders, an ecstatic Tony sings "Maria." As he sings, Maria appears on a fire escape above him. They profess their love for each other ("Tonight").

    Anita and her friends are gathered on a city rooftop, where they express conflicting views about their lives in "America."

    At the Drugstore, the proprietor, Doc, tries to convince the Jets not to have a rumble (an all-out fight) with the Sharks. The gang expresses their pent-up tension in "Cool." Ignoring Doc, Riff and Bernardo set up the rumble for the next day and agree on weapons. Tony suggests a less dangerous fist fight. After the others leave, Tony dismisses Doc's fear with his conviction nothing can go wrong because he is love with Maria.

    The next day, Maria learns about the rumble from Anita at the Bridal Shop. When Tony arrives, Anita leaves. Maria begs Tony to stop the rumble and he promises her he will. They enact a mock marriage ceremony ("One Hand, One Heart") swearing that "even death can't part us now."

    Tony tries to stop the rumble in progress under a highway. In the midst of insults, pushing, and shoving, Bernardo stabs Riff. In blind fury, Tony stabs Bernardo. The sirens scream; everyone runs except Tony, who stands transfixed. Anybodys, a tomboy whose dream is to become a Jet, has followed the gang, and prods Tony to escape, just in time. The curtain comes down on a stage which is empty except for the bodies of Riff and Bernardo.

    Act Two

    Unaware of the tragedy under the highway, Maria sings to her girl friends about how beautiful she feels ("I Feel Pretty"). She speaks of marriage, and her friends assume she is thinking about Chino. Chino enters with the news Tony has killed Bernardo. Left alone, Maria is praying; Tony enters through the window. He explains why he killed Bernardo in a moment of anger over Riff's death. Maria forgives him, and they declare their determination to be together. Shark and Jet couples dance together in a dream-like, peaceful, sunlit world - the "Somewhere" where Maria and Tony are allowed to love one another. At the end of the dream, Tony and Maria are in her bed, in each other's arms.

    In an alley, the bumbling Office Krupke is questioning the Jets about the murders. The gang ridicules him as they sing "Officer Krupke," a put-down of the social workers, cops, psychiatrists, and judges who fail to understand what motivates their behavior.

    Anita arrives at Maria's apartment. Tony escapes through the window, telling Maria to meet him at the drugstore so they can run away together. Anita realizes Tony has been with Maria and turns on Maria in fury for making love to the boy who killed her brother ("A Boy Like That"). However, when Maria explains ("I Have a Love"), Anita realizes Maria loves Tony as much as she loved Bernardo. She warns Maria Chino has a gun and is planning to kill Tony. When Shrank arrives to question Maria, Anita agrees to go to the drugstore to tell Tony to wait for her.

    Anita is prevented from reaching Tony by the ethnic prejudice of the Jets. The gang's verbal taunting of Anita gets physical and is turning into rape when she is saved by Doc. In her fury and humiliation, Anita lies and tells Tony's buddies Chino has killed Maria.

    Doc tells Tony, who is hiding in his cellar, Maria and his dreams for the future are dead because she is dead. Tony runs out to find Chino. On the street, Tony sees Maria. Chino appears and kills Tony. As Maria kneels over Tony's body, the Jets and Sharks enter. Maria takes Chino's gun, but is unable to bring herself to fire it. The cycle of violence ends with her.

    Gradually, members of both gangs assemble on either side of Tony's body. Maria kisses him gently. The Jets and Sharks form a procession and together they carry Tony offstage while the adults stand by, still helpless. The lights fade.

    Musical Numbers

    Overture - Orchestra
    Prologue - Orchestra
    Jet Song - Riff, Jets
    Something's Coming - Tony
    Dance At The Gym - Orchestra
    Maria - Tony
    Balcony Scene - Maria, Tony
    America - Anita, Rosalia, Shark Girls
    Cool - Riff, Jets
    One Hand, One Heart - Tony, Maria
    Tonight (Quintet) - Jets, Sharks, Anita, Tony, Maria, Riff, Bernardo
    The Rumble - Orchestra
    I Feel Pretty - Maria, Consuela, Rosalia, Francisca
    Ballet Sequence - Tony, Maria
    Scherzo - Orchestra
    Somewhere - Girl
    Procession and Nightmare - Tony, Maria, Company
    Gee, Officer Krumpke - Jets
    A Boy Like That - Anita
    I Have a Love - Maria, Anita
    Taunting Scene - Orchestra
    Finale - Maria, Tony

    Casting Information

    Musical Style: Broadway, Contemporary
    Musical Difficulty: Challenging to learn, Challenging to sing
    Show Cast Size: Large (over 20) (6 Men/5 Women)
    Show Chorus Size: Large
    Show Dance Required: Heavy
    Notes:Ethnic roles, A Voice (Soprano) to sing "Somewhere"
    Character Breakdown:
    RIFF - Quick-tempered leader of the Jets. Baritone
    TONY - Former Jet leader gone straight. Tenor or Bariton
    e THE JETS - Action, A-Rab, Baby John, Snowboy, Big Deal, Diesel, Gee-Tar, Mouthpiece and Tiger
    THE JETS'GIRLS - Graziella, Velma, Minnie, Clarice, Pauline, and Anybodys-a tagalong tomboy
    BERNARDO - Maria's brother, leader of the Sharks.
    MARIA - Puerto Rican ingenue. Bernardo's sister. Soprano
    ANITA - Maria's saucy older friend. Bernardo's girl. Mezzo-Soprano
    CHINO - Maria's angry young suitor. Bernardo's friend.
    THE SHARKS - Pepe, Indio, Luis, Anxious, Nibbles, Juano, Toro, Moose
    THE SHARKS' GIRLS - Rosalia-Anita's foil in "America", Consuelo, Teresita, Francisca, Estella and Margarita
    DOC - A weary old candy store owner
    GLAD HAND - A fidgety chaperone

    Rehearsal Set

    24 Libretto-Vocal Books
    2 Vocal Scores
    1 Study Guide


    1 REED I (Piccolo, Flute, Alto Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)1 REED II (Eb Clarinet, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)
    1 REED III (Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Ten Sax, Bar. Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)
    1 REED IV (Piccolo, Flute, Soprano Sax, Bass Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)
    1 REED V (Bassoon)
    1 TRUMPET I & II
    1 HORNS I & II
    1 VIOLIN I
    1 CELLO
    1 BASS
    1 PIANO (Piano, Celesta)
    2 PERCUSSION (Traps, Vibes, Timpani, various percussion instruments)
    1 GUITAR


    Choreographic/Director's Guide
    Full Score
    Logo Pack
    Study Guide

Partners & Associates

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