With a sensational score by Leonard Bernstein, fresh catchy lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and explosive direction by Jerome Robbins West Side Story set new standards in the theatre community and became the benchmark for musicals that still stands today.
Although the show ends on a somber note, the gravity of the show could not stop the critics from raving, the crowds from coming and the songs from being sung in the streets then and now. Even if you haven't ever seen the show or the movie, the story is timeless, and the music is familiar. Incredible.
West Side Story made it's debut at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957 and played for 732 performances. Tony Awards for 1958 included Best Scenic Design and Best Choreography.
In 1961, a superb screen version starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers further added to the popularity and cemented it's place in the pop culture vernacular.
Many revivals have happened since 1957, and recently another joined the ranks. On March 19, 2009 the current revival of West Side Story opened at the Palace Theatre.
Best of luck!