I grew up in a family where “West Side Story” played a big role in my formative years and didn’t act less than a bible in a Catholic household. Yes, my father was – and still is – fanatically obsessed with the movie and encouraged us to watch it over and over as little kids. He’s confessed that as a teenager, when the movie first came out in Tehran in the 60s, he treated himself to seeing the film no less than twelve times on the big screen and that every single time was more pleasurable than the last.
I always wondered why a 7-year old girl should watch a movie, based on Shakespeare’s masterpiece “Romeo and Juliet” and set in the modern era, to the point that we knew all the songs that Toni sang to Maria, entire pieces of dialogue between the Jets and the Sharks, their fights, their hatred, and their loves.
As time passed and I grew older, I realized what bliss it was to have the first film of your life listed as “West Side Story”. I always think, this movie is a piece of art that should be treasured. Based on the most remarkable play, with music and songs that tear your heart into a million pieces, with top-notch acting, with a director and choreographer whose souls should be blessed for their glorious work — what isn’t there to like and love?
Last Thursday, my sister generously treated the whole family to the ballet suite of our beloved “West Side Story”, a stunning and flawless performance presented by the National Ballet of Canada for a limited time. Sitting beside the man who introduced this beauty to my life, seeing his excited face, flushed with joy while remembering his youth fifty-odd years ago, imitating the Prologue at his high school basketball field, was a treasure that I honestly will not exchange with anything else.
Yes, years passed, time flew and we all grew grays, but “West Side Story” never did and never will.