An Ultimate Parallelism: Romeo And Juliet Versus West Side Story

3896 words - 16 pages

The story of Romeo and Juliet is a classic. It is preformed in many forms and fashions. Themes changed, twisted, and unfolded accordingly. Although the play may have consisted of a tragic ending, other directors tended to put their own twists on the theme to give a happier ending. For West Side Story, on the other hand, this unforgettable play followed in the footsteps of the Shakespearean classic. With so many performances and awards, West Side Story stood tall alongside Romeo and Juliet, in its own silhouette. Because the popular works were so similar, but yet so different, it is only appropriate to examine the two works and compare them amongst each other respectively.
West Side Story has many similarities to Romeo and Juliet. It was a mere shadow of the classic story about rivalry, deceit, and love. The stories parallel one another, but there are a few differences. The theme, characters, music, and even the language are all parallel in many ways, but yet different. Criticisms and praising were also a huge aspect of the plays’ success and ongoing performances. The many different elements and characteristics of both works claimed attraction for comparison. From Romeo and Juliet’s stamp on poetry during the Elizabethan era, to West Side Story’s staggering start for its debut, the two works are discussed in great detail.
The story of Romeo and Juliet had its beginnings in the Elizabethan era where poetry and literary works were beginning to receive the praise they so rightfully deserved; and Shakespeare became the single most important and celebrated playwright in theatre history. His works were always being taught and talked about. Students from generations to come will be taught about the historic playwright. However, the byproduct of the infamous love story, West Side Story, came along with a not so welcoming creation. While West Side Story has been around for years, most people are unaware that the popular musical almost did not make it to Broadway. Originally called East Side Story, it was written by playwright Arthur Laurents, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and scored by composer and lyricist Leonard Bernstein in 1949. The play was initially about two lovers, one Jewish and the other Catholic set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The show never went to production and was pushed off to the sidelines for about six years. However, by the mid-1950s, the play started to get a little action. Fresh, talented, and the then unknown lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, came along and brought some life to the almost forgotten play. With the help of both Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, their songs and title change contributed to their overall success of West Side Story.
The creators decided to maintain the theme of two lovers across different backgrounds. However, they purposely divided the lovers by race and ethnic backgrounds in order to add a little excitement to the story. During the late 40s and 50s, Puerto Ricans were beginning to move...

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