West Side Story

Now playing at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.

At a weekday evening performance of West Side Story, Sean and I had the misfortune to be seated directly in front of a group of high school students, a small but significant number of whom simply could not deal with the conceit of dancing gang members. They snickered and whispered and generally lived down to every stereotype of the age. We wanted to smack them. Choreographer Jerome Robbins’s street ballet obviously isn’t realistic, but strict adherence to realism is a poor metric for quality in art, and in a musical, it’s absurd.

The real irony, though, is that Robbins’s landmark choreography, restored in this new revival, is the best thing about the production. The instrumentalists, while quite talented, aren’t completely in sync performing composer Leonard Bernstein’s complex rhythms, and the singers, with a few notable exceptions, are pedestrian and poorly served by bad miking. But the dancing—athletic leaps and long-lined extensions and crisp, coordinated movements playing off Bernstein’s iconic music! That I loved, and no stupid giggly kids could spoil it for me. (Kids these days! Get off my lawn!)