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Fierce street fighting rages between two rival teenage gangs – the Jets, long established in the neighborhood, and the new arrivals, the Sharks. The Jets under their leader Riff are eager to challenge the Sharks, led by Bernardo, to a decisive battle for supremacy. Riff asks his friend Tony, the former leader of the Jets, to help them out in the showdown.
Bernardo and Chino collect Maria, Bernardo’s sister, and Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita to take them to the dance at the gym.It’s at the dance that Riff plans to deliver the challenge to Bernardo. There Maria and Tony meet for the first time. It is love at first sight. When Tony finds out that Maria is Bernardo’s sister, he secretly follows her home. They profess their love for each other and make a date for the following day. As the Sharks return home they argue about the advantages and disadvantages of their adoptive and native countries.
At Doc’s Store the leaders negotiate the terms for the fight (the »rumble«). At Tony’s urging they finally agree on a fair fight between one member from each gang, without weapons. Maria and Tony secretly spend time together but are found out by Anita. Maria persuades Tony to stop the fight from happening at all. He doesn’t succeed. When he tries to keep the two fighters apart, the conflict gets out of control. Riff is stabbed by Bernardo, then in retaliation Tony stabs Bernardo.
Maria is blissfully happy. She doesn’t know yet about the tragic outcome of the rumble. Then Chino brings her news of Bernardo’s death. Immediately afterwards Tony bursts in and begs her for forgiveness. They declare their love for one another again. Tony says he will lie low at Doc’s Store and then he and Maria will run away together. The Jets, on the run from the police, learn that Chino has vowed to shoot Tony. They decide to search for Tony and warn him. Anita tries to talk Maria out of her attachment to Tony, but she is not to be swayed. Anita then reveals Chino’s murderous intentions. Maria wants to join Tony but is held up by the policeman Schrank. Instead she sends Anita. Though Anita is grieving over Bernardo’s death at Tony’s hands, she wants to help them both. At Doc’s Store she finds the Jets, who taunt and insult her viciously and almost rape her before Doc intervenes at the last moment. Full of rage, Anita declares that Maria has been shot by Chino. Doc gives Tony the (false) news of Maria’s death. In despair Tony seeks out his killer. Maria finally finds him – just as Chino pulls the trigger. Tony dies in Maria’s arms.
It has finally returned! »Barrie Kosky's breath-taking production gives Bernstein's old West Side Story back its hardness and explosive power« [Berliner Zeitung] Along with Bernstein’s unique music as conducted by Koen Shoots, it is not least thanks to Otto Pichler's »truly contemporary choreography: raw, unpolished, virile, full of testosterone« [Berliner Morgenpost] that this production has always sold out in previous seasons. A disturbingly topical yet deeply touching musical that powerfully demands tolerance and the right to a great love that shatters all boundaries! »Unhappy ending, thunderous applause at the première.« [Der Tagesspiegel]
Two rival gangs who are fundamentally no different from each other. And yet for certain young people who have nothing more to lose except their reputation, belonging to one of these gangs is the sole justification for existence. So when a boy and girl dare to ignore the bitterly defended lines of demarcation between gangs, this means more than a little scrap. Because by doing so they are questioning the social order, and they can’t get away with that …
Musical in German and English
The première was staged and choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Based on an idea by Jerome Robbins
BOOK by ARTHUR LAURENTS
MUSIC by LEONARD BERNSTEIN
SONG TEXTS by STEPHEN SONDHEIM
German translation by Frank Thannhäuser and Nico Rabenald
Original Broadway production by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince following an agreement with Roger L. Stevens