Monday, April 11, 2022
In addition to the first High School production, I went on see several other stage versions of the show both amateur and professional. I also ended up playing Riff in a theatre production during my first year of University. It was years later when I first saw the 1961 film version. Although I loved some things about it, for me, West Side Story belongs not on film, but on the stage.Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino, 2021)
Yes, I loved both Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose, especially their film versions of America, not all musicals translate smoothly from the stage. Chicago and Grease, yes, West Side Story and Into The Woods.. not so much. Although Steven Spielberg gave it his all, some of the songs and especially the gang fights, just tend to look silly on stage. Having performed the Jet Song, I know it can work on stage, it just doesn't translate as well on film.
In West Side Story there are three main male characters, Tony, the lead, and supporting characters Riff and Bernardo. The character of Tony requires a skilled singer, the character of Bernardo requires a skilled dancer and Riff is required to do both.Tony & Riff (1961)
Having played Riff, I know it was a bit of bummer to be killed off before intermission. I remember wanting to go home after my death, but having to stick around for the curtain calls. The show has it's best moments in it's first half, losing both Riff and Bernardo in the first act. Check out my tribute to Tony, Riff and Bernardo below:Riff & Tony (2021)