The West Side Story Revival Is Cutting Two Iconic Songs, and People Aren't Happy

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)


Theater fans are predictably upset. Some say a revival without these iconic songs isn't even a true revival. (Though, to be fair, aren't all the songs in West Side Story iconic?) Some worry what it indicates about the other liberties van Hove and his team will take with the material. (They'll also be using video projections, according to Vogue.) Others have noted that "I Feel Pretty" is one of few women-driven songs in the show, and the only time Maria sings without Tony. (Women are also missing from the majority of the advertising for the show.)

But the most overwhelming response has been less about the songs and more about who will be singing them: Why cut two beloved songs, many are asking, and not Amar Ramasar?

Ramasar, the New York City Ballet principal who will be playing Bernardo, was implicated in the NYCB texting scandal last year. He was fired by the company, then reinstated in an arbitration case. While NYCB had no choice but to take Ramasar back, there are many talented performers West Side Story could have hired to play Bernardo who haven't been involved in sexual harassment scandals.

Even Rachel Zegler, who will play Maria in Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story film, hinted that she has bigger issues with the show than cutting a few songs:

It's odd that it took this news for Ramasar's hiring to receive widespread public attention—we'll see how it develops as the show's opening approaches.

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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