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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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I've seen both versions.

IMO, the 'girl's only' rendition was quite boring. (YAWN)

It was a great move adding the Sharks to 'America'. It helped develop their characters. No longer were they ONLY thugs and jd's....they were also very sensual, fun-loving guy's.

The Jets had "Krupke" to soften their image, why not the Sharks?


Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:49 pm
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Oh yes, the girls are sooo much better. I didn't even know there was a different one until one night I was trying to download the song and they were guys singing and the words were different! I was really mad! :x

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Thu Sep 11, 2003 12:37 am
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In the movie, there [i]are[/i] some girls singing in "Gee Officer Krupke" but that's not the point you were trying to make. As many times as I go see the stage version of WWS, I just can't get over how much I really like the movie. So I'm going to have to go with girls/boys. But they're both good.

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Mon Jul 19, 2004 5:45 pm
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The movie version is so much better. I love the guys vs. girls idea. Genius.


Mon Jul 19, 2004 6:03 pm
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Young Hoofer
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Let the girls have their number. This is a male-dominated show so it's not like there's nothing for guys. I was a shark guy and I still got to do more than my shark girl friends. Therefore I'm glad that they were given their own song. However, I think we can all feel bad for the Jet Girls...they don't do anything!!!!


Mon Jul 19, 2004 11:04 pm
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Post "America"
There was always cast recordings being played around the house, as a kid growing-up. I must have heard every single song from "West Side Story" a hundred times, but never saw the whole movie or stage production. When I finally sat through the movie as a teenager, I loved the show so much, that I convinced my brother to drive my twin sister and I, from our Los Angeles residence to the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera just happened to be presenting a full-scale version of the show, which included the movie's version of "America". Since the movie was what introduced me to the stage version, I had no idea that the original Broadway version of the song, included only the Shark girls. I had seen many black and white photos of the original Broadway production. This stage version's sets were more lavish and realistic looking. Over-all it was worth the two and a half hour drive.

When it comes to musical theatre, I have always been hopelessly devoted to everything and anything ORIGINAL. Everything from the original costume designs and colors, lighting, scenery and props, to orchestrations, direction, choreography and libretto. I don't dislike a production if it is altered from it's original, but I do find great excitement in knowing that I'm watching EXACTLY what audiences saw in the original Broadway production. The production I saw in Santa Barbara was great, but would've been excellent if they used the original set, costume and lighting design concepts. By then I had found out, that the original "America" was very different. I thought I would never get a chance to see the original version of not only "America", but the show itself in it's entirety. It was highly unlikely almost 50 years after the original premiered on Broadway, anyway.

So when I heard that a major U.S. national touring production was to have a Los Angeles engagement, I thought I'd probably see some modernized version due to the awful ads which featured a leather-clad, sexy Tony and Maria. I bought tickets anyway.

Imagine my surprise, when after taking our seats, I began looking at the photos of my souvenir program. Everything looked somehow familiar down to the last detail. I just realized I was about to see a faithful replica of the original Broadway production. With the original scenery, costumes and lighting reproduced it was visually exciting. With Jerome Robbins' original choreography it was thrilling and along with a full 30 member orchestra and exceptional cast of dancers and singers, it definitely stands-out as one of the greatest theatre experiences of my life. One number in particular stood-out, it was "America".

What a showstopper! Obviously this was the original all-girl version and when it was over, the audience erupted into loud bravos, thunderous clapping and cheering. I don't recall such a reaction in the Santa Barbara production's replica of the movie version's "America". It was the dancing!

The original version of "America" relies on two things in order to produce such a reaction from an audience, and that's GREAT top-notch dancers who don't do the sissy kiddy movements that are seen in the movie version of "America", and a GREAT choreographer who has faithfully replicated Jerome Robbins' original choreography. The scene uses minimal scenery and simple lighting, but the splash of colour comes from the costumes and the rest is choreography.

This isn't a "fun" number, it's a breath-taking one. The dancer playing Anita MUST not only be graceful and professional, but must have balls, LOL! This number uses very aggressive, quick movements and the dancer I saw who played Anita, Ms. Natacia Diaz, was full of fire and made sure she worked-up a good sweat and was gasping for air by the end of the number. Jerome Robbins' original choreography is in itself, a masterpiece. "America" uses one of his best variations and if the dancer is a singer first, then a dancer second....it will fail and will be boring. Thankfully Ms. Natacia Diaz was both and then some, LOL!

My advice to community theatres, high schools and other amatuer productions? Get top of the line DANCERS if you want this version to succeed. Focus on a very strong Anita. Also a good choreographer is probably one the single most important things. Above all, make sure you have the resources that will enable a skilled choreographer to RE-CREATE Jerome Robbins' original. Should any of these important and basic requirements be unavailable, I urge you to do your audience a favor and do the film version of "America". That version is fun no matter what and there's enough movement onstage to keep that easily entertained, American audience from yawning.

I have a very rare clip of a Broadway revival of "West Side Story" during the early 80's, that starred choreographer Debbie Allen as Anita. The clip is from the 1980 or 1981 Tony Awards telecast and is extremely rare because this was aired before VCR's were invented. My brother who is also a huge fan of Broadway, recieved it from someone who had access to the original TV sation's video archive.

The clip features a Tony performance of the "West side Story" revival's female cast performing "America". The clip quality is not the best, but it is good enough to thoroughly enjoy the choreography, acting and clear enough to hear the music and lyrics. The song's 2nd verse is edited out due to time restrictions of the live Tony Awards broadcast, but the production alone was an exact replica of the original and although this performance isn't filmed inside the theatre where the revival was currently playing, it does show the original choreography and costumes. Debbie Allen is vocally not the best out there, but her acting and especially her dancing skills are amazing! If you want to see someone master this number's choreography, then you need to watch this clip!

If there is enough interest, I will transfer it to my computer and make it available online. Take care.

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Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:41 am
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Personally, I'm partial to the Forbidden Broadway Chita Rivers vs. Rita Moreno version. :D

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Tue Jul 20, 2004 4:17 am
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Definitely all-girls. It's funny in a catty kind of way. Bringing in the guys bombards the viewer with racism complaints and is weird because of the guys dancing. Especially when they lift that one guy up as he sings in that weird voice. The Sharks are so tough throughout, why suddenly do this?

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Tue Jul 20, 2004 11:22 pm
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i like the film version best. It gives the sharks a chance to do more since they don't get a song like the jets. I think it also give more energy to the song having the guys and girls dancing together. I also think bernardo and anita fighting about the racial differences works better.

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Sun Dec 19, 2004 3:56 pm
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personaly, i like them both. i agreee with all the comments about it.... it so hard to decide! While the stage version was wonderful, i did LOVE the movie's. though i cant decide, i think the best line in the song no matter who sings it has to be when Rosalita/Bernardo sings: "when i will go back to san juan?" and Anita replies: "When will you shut up and get gone?" oh yeah..... and the time anita is like "everyone there will ahve moved here!" i like the song either way.... personally, i think its the best song in the show besides gee officer krupke...... ok ill stop telling people my favorite things cause i really cant decide!!!!

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Mon Dec 19, 2005 7:42 pm
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I didn't actually know about the all-girl version.
However, I feel that the male v female version is very fitting to the notions of the time.
The men were bitter about living in America, and dreamed of returning to PR.
Whilst the women were content to make the best of their situation.

This is obviously a drastic generalisation...


Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:59 pm
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I like the film version- boys vs. girls- better, because it gives the Sharks something to do, and humanizes them somewhat, shows their playful side. I was in a production of "West Side Story" as Toro, a Shark. And, having only been exposed to the film, thought that I would get to sing in "America". It was much to my dismay that I found out that it was supposed to be just girls. Our director had intentions of putting us in, but then didn't. Without this, the only time the Sharks sing is in "Tonight". We Sharks did NOTHING. Most of us had no lines, unlike the Jets. I would have killed to have been in this song and done something.

Also, I think the film version works better in the sense of a scene. The scene preceding the song has Bernardo and Anita arguing about which place is better. The sensible way for this scene to go would be for the two to spatter through dialogue, and then, for the argument to come to a head through song, and for everyone to take sides and join in the argument. But in the stage version, it feels random. The Sharks leave and then a random girl who has had no established character until now picks up where Bernardo left off. Seems very sporadic. But that's just my opinion. I obviously can't vote for the film version. Oh, well.

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Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:42 pm
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