Legendary 1957 stereo recording spread across 2LPs for the first time - COLUMBIA MASTERWORKS
Much has been written about West Side Story, which began as a transmogrification of Romeo and Juliet as a feud between the Jews and Gentiles living on the East side in modern-day New York, only to morph into a confrontation between two street gangs, one American the other Puerto Rican, on the upper West side of the city. Initially, Leonard Bernstein, its composer, was to have written both music and lyrics, but Stephen Sondheim was eventually brought in to handle the latter. With Arthur Laurents contributing the book, and Jerome Robbins devising the staging, the show opened to great acclaim on September 26, 1957 at the Winter Garden, where it played 732 performances, and was subsequently revived several times on Broadway and around the country. But it was the film version, made three years later with Natalie Wood as Maria, that ensured its popularity worldwide. Though there are many recorded versions of the percussive score available, the original cast album, with its fresh, spontaneous performances, remains the standard by which all others are measured.