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Opening the can of worms: "America" 

Which version of "America" do you prefer?
Girls only - Rosalia and Anita 100%  100%  [ 28 ]
Total votes : 28

Opening the can of worms: "America" 
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Fresh Face
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Post Opening the can of worms: "America"
Okay. Here comes the heated debate.

Whether people realise it or not, there are two versions of the song "America."

The first version is sung by the Puerto Rican girls, highlighted by an argument between Anita and Rosalia about which is better, America or Puerto Rico.

The second version, which I believe was written for the film, has the Sharks joining in the song, which is highlighted by an argument between Anita and BERNARDO, about the racism towards the P.R.s in America.

For me, there is no question about which one is better. I find the second version nothing short of embarrassing. This number is a song for the GIRLS. Seeing the boys poncing about singing "La la la la la America" just ruins the song for me. I'd get the same feeling if the girls joined in and started singing along to "Gee Officer Krupke" or "Jet Song." These are songs for the boys, "America" is a song for the girls. This and "I Feel Pretty" are the only girls' songs in the entire show, and the second version robs them of that.

Not only that, but the content of the song is almost completely different in the two versions. I think the lyrics are funnier in the first version, and not as... how could I put it...? Preachy? I dunno, having the Puerto Ricans spell out that they have to deal with racism just seems silly to me. This point is explained elsewhere in the show, it doesn't need to be pushed here.

So that's my opinion. I am sure I'll have people disagreeing with me - heck, half the cast of the "West Side" I'm doing at the moment disagree with me! (In the end, I win though - we're doing the first version! Heh heh)

What I HAVE discovered is that EVERYONE I've spoken to so far prefers the version THAT THEY HEARD FIRST.

What do others think...?

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Sun Jul 27, 2003 12:41 am
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Post America / America
I think that the version written for the stage version works fantastically in the stage version and that the version in the film works perfectly for the film.

I don't think the film version is embarrassing. This is a comedy number with a bite: it's funny and it works like a dream. The staging of the number in the film is fantastic too. And it helps to develop the Shark men a little more; in the stage show they are pretty much designated as "the other" with very little of the complexity that characterises the Jets.

Later days
David

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Last edited by RainbowJude on Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:46 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jul 27, 2003 1:40 am
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The first version that I heard was the film version - Anita and Bernado, but I prefer the all girls version, I agree that America is a number for the girlies, th eboys get their own, but America is really the only good female chorus number!

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Sun Jul 27, 2003 12:26 pm
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Post Re: Opening the can of worms: "America"
Irvine wrote:

For me, there is no question about which one is better. I find the second version nothing short of embarrassing. This number is a song for the GIRLS. Seeing the boys poncing about singing "La la la la la America" just ruins the song for me. I'd get the same feeling if the girls joined in and started singing along to "Gee Officer Krupke" or "Jet Song." These are songs for the boys, "America" is a song for the girls. This and "I Feel Pretty" are the only girls' songs in the entire show, and the second version robs them of that.



haha--couldn't have said it better myself....I haven't seen the second version but the thought of boys singing and dancing in that song is hilarious imagery!

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Sat Aug 02, 2003 7:53 pm
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the film version-No doubt!

I liked the way we did it when i did it, though. we used the stage version's lyrics, but had Rosalia sort of mocking the Male Sharks as they were saying america is so much better, etc, and they still got to frolic around and sing "La la la america!" lol!

It ended up working out quite well!
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Sat Aug 02, 2003 8:08 pm
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Post Legalities...?
As far as I know, the version of the show available for production uses the original script with the girls performing the number. Can the production be done using the film version of the number; it this available for hire?

Hmm.....

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Sun Aug 03, 2003 12:00 am
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I saw the video first then saw it on stage and REALLY enjoyed the girls version!!!!!! i think a big factor also is how the song is performed if the person playing Anita doesnt come across as if shes mocking the other Rosalia then it doesnt come across as good but the version i saw was excellent!!!!
GIRLS ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)


Mon Aug 04, 2003 12:27 pm
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Fresh Face
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Post Girls only in America
I was introduced to the movie version of WSS before i ever saw it on stage, so I was automatically under the assumption that the number was a sort of face off between Bernardo and Anita...however, I enjoyed it much more once Bernardo was replaced by Rosalia...I am currently involved in a production of 'West Side' where the director chose to stay traditional to the musical and only used the Shark girls in America-unfortunately the number has not been getting the explosive response it deserves from audiences and thus he is trying to incorporate the guys into the number while still using Anita and Rosalia as the soloists...I dunno I just figure why mess with something when it should be a certain way? As for the Jet girls in 'Gee, Officer Krupke,' my director effectively used them in the blocking of this number without allowing any of them to upstage any of the guys...they kind of goof around in the background while the Jets visit the judge, social worker, etc. It's definately a different take on the show but it's fresh and exciting and has gotten impeccable reviews, so it's all working out.

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Sat Aug 09, 2003 9:34 am
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While I think groups should only use the females while performing (since that's the version they've licensed), I think the Bernardo-Anita America is more effective. Rosalia is such a minor character that you don't really care about her conflict with Anita. Whereas, using Bernardo and Anita, it adds a dynamic to their relationship and keeps the audience interested in who will emerge victorious. That's just my two cents.

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Sat Aug 09, 2003 7:48 pm
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i like the boys and girls, but only if the moen, can actually pull off a masculine feel, which is hard to do when dancing around singing lalalala, but not impossible

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Thu Aug 14, 2003 8:57 pm
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I finished a run of "West Side Story" in June as Consuela, a Shark girl. I have to admit as a long time fan of the movie I was apprehensive about just girls doing "America" especially since the only stage version I have seen used Anita and Bernardo. However, our Anita and Rosalia were really good. The girl who played Rosalia was so animated and even though she's a small role she made her character very big. All the Shark girls had so much fun and really made the audience react. It was the biggest number of the show that got the best reaction. If done right, it can be just as exciting as the boy/girl version and thats how the writers wanted it.

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Fri Aug 15, 2003 10:43 am
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Excuse me for being a bit "preachy", but here goes:

While doing a production of WSS, I thought I recall my director, who worked with Jeroms Robbins, saying that the movie version concept of America was the original concept for the number in the stage version, but apparently the Sharks from the original Broadway production were not attending rehearsals and not cooperative, so the number was switched by Robbins and made into feature number for the Shark girls (I have NO idea if this was true, but it sounds possible, especially since a feature for the Shark girls only and nothing for the boys in the show seems a bit odd...).

Aso, in my opinion, if you're not going to do it the way it was written (with the grils singing AMERICA), then you're not doing the show as intended. Anyone who is familiar with the show knows what a showstopper that song can be, and would expect the girls to do it.

Unfortunately, that is the problem with movie musicals--anyone who is more inclined to see a movie version of a muscial thinks they've seen "the play". I pratically cringe when people say they saw the movie "A Chorus Line" and they think they've seen the show. (The ACL movie was DREADFUL!!!) While many movie musicals have done the original Bway productions justice, some have not. (Annie and ACL are examples, as well as the remake of Music Man with Matthew Broderick--the individual performances may be great, sometimes new concepts or restructuring without proper supervisionor input of any original creative staff is poor executed).

In the WSS movie, they also changed where Officer Krupke and Cool are sung, as well as who sings them (Riff sings Krupke in the movie and Action sings Cool)...
I don't but that either.


Fri Sep 05, 2003 9:57 am
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