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I've been reading The Leonard Bernstein Letters and while there really isn't much in letter form due to the fact that the foursome worked together on a daily basis there is something very interesting in the book. ….

And that is Appendix One : Arthur Laurents (with Leonard Bernstein) Outline for Romeo sent to Jerome Robbins , undated, shortly before October 18, 1955.

This is the very first draft of what would become West Side Story . At this point Tony is still called Romeo, Maria is still called Juliet, Riff is Mercutio and Action? Diesel? is Benvolio (Benny). However we do have A-rab and Baby in the un-named gang. On the other side we have Bernardo and Anita.

Act One begins with A-rab beaten up by the un-named Puerto Rico gang and discovered by the Anglo gang which is run by Romeo and Mercutio. The gang decides to send scouts to Bernardo to discuss a rumble at the Crystal Cave (dancehall).

Romeo goes to the dance looking to see Rosalind who, as in Shakespeare, ignores him.
And then he sees Juliet, the two enter a dream state and began to talk until Bernardo pulls her away.

Benny and Romeo meet up with the rest of the gang and tell them that the war council will be at Doc's Drugstore at midnight. Mercutio gives Romeo some advice on love and the rest of the gang teases him.

The balcony scene is written just as we are familiar with, including "Good Night" and "Buenos Noches".

Bernardo and Anita heading home discuss Bernardo's hatred for America and his dislike of Romeo as a date for Juliet. Anita tells Bernardo not to have a rumble.

At Doc's the Anglo gang is trying to blow off steam by dancing as Bernardo enters. The gang leaders decide to rumble in Central Park and then Romeo appears and tries to talk them into having a fist fight. A suspicious Shrank enters and throws all the gang members out of the drugstore except Tony who works for Doc.

Act Two starts with the familiar "Quintet" although in this version Anita is worried about the outcome of the rumble and not about any date afterwards. Tony comes to the bridal shop to meet Juliet and they act out their "marriage".

Bernardo is heading towards the Park when he runs into Romeo and Juliet and is furious. Romeo insists that he's going to take Juliet home and Bernardo decides that the rumble is going to be the real thing.

Romeo comes in when the two gangs are ready to fight and tries to talk them out of it. Mercutio punches Bernardo, who has been harrassing Romeo, and Bernardo stabs Mercutio. Romeo grabs a broken bottle from A-rab and stabs Bernardo. Romeo is left with the two bodies and the sound of a police siren.

Act Three starts with Juliet and her family singing a street song in Spanish and everyone is happy until Shrank arrives. The family goes to claim the body when Romeo arrives on the fire escape by Juliet's part of the room. Juliet doesn't call for the police and Romeo tells her to meet him at the gang hangout. As he is leaving Anita arrives and sees him. Then Anita and Juliet have a duet. Juliet climbs down the fire escape and the future "Somewhere" ballet begins.

Romeo and Juliet meet at the hangout when Benny shows up and tells them that the police are on the way. He taunts Juliet for not allowing Romeo to make a safe getaway so Romeo throws him out and tells Juliet to find Doc.

As Romeo is running away from the police they fire at him and wound him.

The Anglo gang is at Doc's dancing while Doc is in the cellar treating Romeo's severe wound. Juliet comes in and the gang surrounds her and tell her that Romeo is dead. They taunt her and offer her poison until she can't take it anymore and runs off with the bottle of poison. Doc comes up from the cellar and lectures them. Then he goes to tell Romeo what happened.

Juliet goes to the bridal shop where she puts on the veil and drinks the poison. Romeo arrives although very weak from his wound. She sinks to the ground, he holds her in his arms, they start to sing their balcony song but can't finish it.

THE END.

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