“It is with great regret that we are announcing today that the 2020 Broadway revival of ‘West Side Story’ will not reopen,” producer Kate Horton said in a statement. “This difficult and painful decision comes after we have explored every possible path to a successful run, and unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, reopening is not a practical proposition. We thank all the brilliant, creative artists who brought ‘West Side Story’ to life at the Broadway Theatre, even for so brief a time, especially the extraordinary acting company, 33 of whom made their Broadway debuts in this production.”
“West Side Story” began previews in December and opened in February, shortly before the pandemic forced theaters to close. The radical adaptation, directed by Ivo van Hove, put a modern-day spin on the rival street gangs caught up in a classic Romeo-and-Juliet love story.
Broadway has been dark since March 2020, with plans to reopen to full capacity in September. Several shows, including “Mean Girls,” Disney’s “Frozen” and “Beetlejuice,” have permanently closed as well.
One of the producers on “West Side Story” was Scott Rudin, who announced plans to “step back” from his theater and film productions following allegations of abusive and bullying workplace behavior. Horton, a veteran theater producer, recently took over day-to-day duties from Rudin on Broadway’s starry revival of “The Music Man.”
During its short run, “West Side Story” faced scrutiny for its casting of Amar Ramasar, a principal dancer who was embroiled in a #MeToo scandal. On the opening night of “West Side Story” in early 2020, protesters gathered outside the theater to rally against Ramasar’s involvement in the show. He had been at the center of controversy since 2018, when he and two other male dancers at the New York City Ballet were accused of sharing sexually explicit photos of other dancers.
The revival received mixed feedback, though critics praised the timeless music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. In her review for Variety, Marilyn Stasio asserted that “Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had some chutzpah to re-think the traditional moves associated with [Jerome] Robbins.”
“‘West Side Story’ has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival […] but the plot of this beloved musical remains intact,” Stasio said.