WEST SIDE GLORY: MUSICAL IS A HIT BEFORE OPENING
The revival of the famed 1957 musical "West Side Story" is already a hit. Last week its box office take was so good that it finished second only to "Wicked" - even though it doesn't open officially until March 19th - grossing an astounding $1,042,713 for its first seven shows. I'm told the producers have $10 million cash in the bank, and are aiming - fingers crossed - for a three year run on Broadway.
I took advantage of a snowy Monday and popped into last night's preview for an early look. Arthur Laurents, the 90 year old writer of "WSS," is directing the show. He happened to be sitting in front of me. Talk about spry! Just as the show ended, he sprinted up the aisle to give notes to the cast. Last year, Laurents directed Patti Lupone in a revival of another of his shows, "Gypsy."
I can't tell you too much about "WSS" just yet except that the theater was full and the audience loved the show. There are no "names" except Matt Cavenaugh, who plays Tony and has appeared in a couple of earlier musicals. He's a break out star from this, but so is 21 year old Josefina Scaglione. She's been imported directly from Buenos Aires, looks more Irish than Latina, and is drop dead gorgeous. She's also a trained opera singer with a stunning voice. The story is that friends of Laurents saw her perform in Buenos Aires. She subsequently put an audition on You Tube, the famed director loved it, and sent for her. Talk about overnight sensation!
Broadway aficionados may rest assured that Jerome Robbins' extraordinary choreography has been meticulously reproduced by Joey McKneely. The dancing in "WSS" remains not only of the highest standard, but something that truly can be described as "awesome."
It's kind of crazy to see "West Side Story" the night after "Guys and Dolls." It makes you wonder why no one writes real songs anymore. It's a lost art. Seems like spring 2009 is going to be all about nostalgia on Broadway, which is fine. But it won't be so much fun if traffic is all snarled up from turning the Great White Way into a mall. Last night even the people who work at the Palace Theater were wondering aloud about this cockamamie idea.
PS In last night's audience: magician David Copperfield, disguised with jet black hair, and a model on his arm, 'natch....
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