Dancers in rehearsal for the original stage production of West Side Story.
Dancers in rehearsal for the original stage production of West Side Story.
(© Martha Swope / The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)

In partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Google Arts & Culture has launched a new collection honoring West Side Story. The collection explores the history, artistic value, and social relevance of the iconic musical, bringing together artifacts and mementos from the making of the musical and movie, behind-the-scenes photographs, and a peek into the modern-day representation of the piece.

West Side Story, a modern Romeo and Juliet story, premiered on Broadway in 1957 starring Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence as Tony and Maria, with Chita Rivera originating the role of Anita. The show features music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents, with original Tony-winning choreography and direction by Jerome Robbins. The musical was adapted for the screen in 1961, starring Richard Beymer as Tony, Natalie Wood as Maria, Russ Tamblyn as Riff, and Rita Moreno as Anita. The film, codirected by Robbins and Robert Wise, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning 10 including Best Picture.

West Side Story follows two young lovers caught in the middle of a gang war. Tony, a member of the "American" Jets, falls in love with Maria, the younger sister of Bernardo, a member of the Puerto Rican Sharks. As racial tensions heighten the violence between the two gangs, the "star-crossed" lovers find themselves caught in the middle and suffer the tragic consequences.

To view the Google Arts & Culture collection, click here.