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'West Side Story' pop quiz

Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune

Ten quick questions to test your knowledge about one of the most celebrated musicals in theater history.

Yo, "West Side Story" is cruising into town. The 1957 classic might make you wince with its dated dialogue, but that Bernstein-Sondheim musical program is still "the most."

The tour, which lands Tuesday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, comes from the 2009 Broadway revival directed by Arthur Laurents.

Laurents, 91 when he staged the piece, has since passed away. He wrote the original and oversaw the injection of Spanish into the script for the recent production. That move proved less than successful, and much of the Spanish was pared back.

"West Side Story" is considered by many theater aficionados to be one of the most perfectly made musicals ever, and the music has become an iconic part of American culture. So how well do you know this bird, daddy-o?

1) Maria is Puerto Rican. Her paramour, Tony, was of what ethnicity?

•A) German
•B) Polish
•C) Italian
•D) Romanian

2) In the play, Tony accidentally kills whom?

•A) Bernardo, Maria's brother
•B) Riff, Tony's best friend
•C) Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend
•D) Officer Krupke, a policeman

3) What was the title of the first draft Laurents made of the story?

•A) West Side Story
•B) West Side Tales
•C) East Side Story
•D) Sharks and the Jets

4) Stephen Sondheim was not the first choice as lyricist. Who was?

•A) Oscar Hammerstein
•B) Alan Jay Lerner
•C) Frank Loesser
•D) Betty Comden and Adolph Green

5) At the same time he was composing "West Side Story," Bernstein was working on which other pending piece?

•A) "On the Town"
•B) "Wonderful Town"
•C) "Candide"
•D) "On the Waterfront"

6) Five "West Side Story" productions have been eligible for Tony Awards. How many has the show won?

•A) Zero
•B) Three
•C) Five
•D) Seven

7) "Music Man" beat "West Side Story" to win the 1958 Tony for Best Musical.

•A) True
•B) False

8) In 2009, "West Side Story" won the Tony for Best Revival.

•A) True
•B) False

9) How did Arthur Laurents famously describe his collaborator, Jerome Robbins?

•A) A genius
•B) A monster
•C) A very happy little monkey
•D) A and B
•E) B and C

10) Where was the most recent Twin Cities professional production of "West Side"?

•A) Ballet of the Dolls
•B) Orpheum
•C) Ordway
•D) Chanhassen


1) B. "Anton Wyzeck" is Polish. The original story proposed a conflict between Italian-American Roman Catholics and a Jewish family. So even though the warring camps were switched, "Tony" stayed.

2) A. Tybalt may have been Juliet's cousin, but scriptwriter Laurents made Bernardo an even tighter relation to Maria.

3) C. Changing the ethnicities precipitated a change in neighborhood.

4) D. Comden and Green were initially asked, but they chose to work on "Peter Pan."

5) C. In fact, it is said that Bernstein stole a couple songs from himself to put into "West Side Story."

6) B. The original production, despite all the acclaim, only netted a Tony for Robbins as choreographer and a win for scenic design. Karen Olivo won an acting Tony for the 2009 revival.

7) A. Interesting that Middle America conquers a New York show on the Big Apple's own turf -- the Tony Awards.

8) B. It was beaten by another decade-defining musical, "Hair."

9) E. On separate occasions, mind you.

10) D. An excellent production, directed by Michael Brindisi and featuring Dieter Bierbrauer and Jodi Carmelli.

What: Directed by Arthur Laurents.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu.; 8 p.m. next Fri.; 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun.

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

Tickets: $28-$83. 1-800-982-2787 or
Tags: 1957 broadway, 2009 broadway revival, fun stuff
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