West Side Story is known for being revolutionary since it first hit the stage in 1957. With its Romeo and Juliet storyline against the backdrop of the Upper West Side, played by a cast diverse for its time, to the music of Leonard Bernstein, sung to the lyrics of Broadway legend Sondheim in time to the explosive choreography of Jerome Robbins, this musical is anything but ordinary.
The 1961 film adaptation of the show paved the way for Latinx performers, as Rita Moreno was the first Latina to win an Oscar for her role as Anita.
For all the greatness that West Side Story is known for, in the year 2020, it is now being ostracized for its casting of Anita’s love interest, Bernardo. The already gridlocked streets of Time Square are now being filled with protestors of the show as the news leaked of Bernardo-actor Amar Ramasar’s sharing nude photos of Alexandra Waterbury, the front-runner of the protest, and another ballerina without their consent.
According to Waterbury’s complaint, Ramasar, a then New York City Ballet dancer, had engaged in sexually explicit text-message conversations with Waterbury’s then boyfriend Chase Finlay, another New York City Ballet dancer. The two men had exchanged photos of Waterbury, referring to the ballerinas in obscene terms, including “farm animals to be tied up.” Ramasar was fired by the New York City Ballet after Waterbury took legal action.
Waterbury took to the streets outside the Broadway theater with signs reading, “Still Not Your Farm Animal.” The show stands by its casting choices, but many still question the decision to cast Ramasar despite the controversy especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Still, the show is raking in the money, with ticket prices going for as much as $230.00 a seat.