West Side Story 2021

We saw it! We really liked it! I’m somewhat surprised that C liked it as much as he did – he’s the first to not like new versions because they’re not identical to the old ones. But it’s really good. I don’t think it supplants the 1961 version, delighted to have both of them. Interesting, though, that the new movie feels like a remake of the old movie rather than a new adaptation of the stage show. Nice, though, that they put back in some spicier lyrics, including my favorite, “Don’t matter if he’s tired, as long as he’s hoooooooot…”

I thought all the leads were good, including Tony (not everyone does). I thought Maria was vocally expressive (including dialogue) without being facially expressive (which was weird), but I liked her. Riff was fantastic. I liked Ariana DeBose, but did not see the “OMG she’s the best thing ever” performance that I think a lot of other people did. I loved David Alvarez, also delighted that he’s making it as an adult actor after winning a Tony as a child for Billy Elliot.

Rita Moreno is a national treasure and that’s all I need to say about that.

Loved Anybodys, great take on the character. Although I love the 1961 Anybodys too.

I thought the most interesting reframing was “Cool”. In the stage show, it’s in Act 1. In the 1961 movie, it’s about the Jets freaking out about how the rumble turned out (Act 2), which works really well. Here, in Act 1 (meaning ‘pre-rumble’) it’s a conflict between Tony and Riff, about the “rocket in your pocket”, and no dirty jokes here about Sperm to Worm. I thought it was new, clever and really well-done. Said rocket has a through-line through the rest of the movie, very well-played.

There were scenes that might have worked better on the big screen – I don’t know if I liked any musical number better than 1961, but they all were good.

Anyway, liked it a lot, will be happy to watch either version again and again. C disagrees with me, but I think WSS might be the best musical ever written.

In other news, we’re only a week away from our orchestra concert, with Symphonie Fantastique and the Rachmaninoff 2nd piano concerto. The pianist is James Adler, longtime colleague and friend. I myself have conducted James in piano concertos (Prokofiev #1 and Rhapsody in Blue in band arrangements), the first over 20 years ago. (ay yi yi) It’s a nice program, I’m playing just fine, and it’s ticking my boxes of introducing me to more orchestral rep that I should be familiar with, but am not.

And at home, we’re watching Gilded Age on Tuesdays and Mrs. Maisal on Fridays and otherwise filling the ‘hour drama’ slot with The Good Doctor, season 5. Now that we have Apple+, we’re finally watching Schmigadoon, which is a hoot. Will have to figure out what’s after that for the comedy slot – Ted Lasso would be an obvious choice.

More soon – I think we’re watching The Scottish Film tonight.

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