It’s no secret that we love the amazing choreography and fancy footwork that characterized the musicals of Old Hollywood. From Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers to Gene Kelly, this period in time was abundant in talented, dedicated performers. However, we cannot discuss amazing choreography and execution without mentioning the 1961 hit musical, The West Side Story, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, and Russ Tamblyn. Based on Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, this musical is about two star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the train tracks.
The Jets and Sharks Couldn’t Interact With One Another
In order to keep tensions high, the actors playing the Sharks and Jets weren’t allowed to interact with one another at all or socialize together. The rivalry between the two gangs is central to the plot of the movie, and their lack of comradery only contributed to the tension throughout the film.
Audrey Hepburn Was Offered the Role of Maria
Although Audrey Hepburn was offered the part of Maria, she turned it down because she was pregnant. She had already suffered through two miscarriages, and she didn’t want to put any additional stress on her body. Famous for her role in Rebel Without a Cause, Natalie Wood was offered the part instead. Apparently her singing chops weren’t so great because singer Marni Nixon dubbed over her singing voice throughout the entire film.
No Four-Letter Words Here
Hopeful to debut the f-word in musical theater, the movie’s lyricist Stephen Sondheim originally included such colorful language in “Gee, Officer Krupke.” However, Columbia Records, wasn’t having any of it due to obscenity laws. Instead, the lyrics were replaced with “Krup you!” Keeping The West Side Story clean, no f-bombs were dropped.
Split Pants and Worn-Out Shoes
Apparently, the actors danced so hard that they split at least 27 different pairs of pants and wore out over 200 pairs of shoes. Sweating through their grueling dance scenes, over 100 pounds of makeup was applied to their faces. Now you don’t feel so bad about splitting your pants, right?
Don’t You Touch Me!
One of Rita Moreno’s most memorable lines in the movie was, “don’t you touch me!” Interestingly enough, she was imitating her then-boyfriend Marlon Brando when she uttered this line. The first time he viewed this film, he immediately took notice.
Speaking of Dubbed Vocals…..
Apparently Natalie Wood wasn’t the only actor to have her singing voice dubbed over by someone else. With the exception of George Chakiris, all of the other actors had their voices overdubbed as well.
Gang Members Were Present During Filming
On order to control the crowds while filming in New York City, some gang members were hired as security. However, this was not the best method for crowd control because many gang members repeatedly got into fights during filming.
The Filmmakers Wanted Elvis Presley to Play Tony
When casting for the film, the filmmakers badly wanted Elvis Presley to play one of the lead roles. Yeah, this just wasn’t happening.
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