By Rady Ananda
Arthur Laurents’ story about love, racism and violence set in 1950s New York City took on a new twist under the direction of David Saint in Broadway Across America’s Ft. Lauderdale production of West Side Story. By making subtle changes (from the 1961 film version starring Natalie Wood), Saint softens the criticism of US racism and salutes same-sex love.
When I first saw the film as a teen, the song “America” shocked me with its blunt lines, “Life is all right in America … if you are white in America.” Given our media-fostered culture of anti-Arab sentiment, I looked forward to hearing those words again. Instead, under Saint’s direction, the song mocked Puerto Rico. “Twelve in a room in America” became San Juan’s burden.