West Side Story

From the first notes to the final breath, West Side Story is one of the most memorable musicals and greatest love stories of all time. Arthur Laurents’ book remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever. The score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim are widely regarded as among the best ever written. The world’s greatest love story takes to the streets in this landmark Broadway musical that is one of the theatre’s finest accomplishments.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City as two young, idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.

Highlighting the talents of a young ensemble cast, West Side Story has found popularity in schools as well as professional theatres throughout the world. Its exciting, sophisticated score by Leonard Bernstein is often considered Broadway’s finest, its songs a part of the nation’s musical heritage. As originally staged by the legendary Jerome Robbins, the show is an impressive showcase for accomplished dancers (a guide featuring the original choreography is available for rental). And, with a reduced orchestration and transpositions on demand, this masterpiece is easier to mount than ever before!


Riff is the leader of the Jets. He is full of life – he thrives as the center of attention and drives much of the action in the story. Though Riff is impulsive and brash, he is also intelligent, cares about the other Jets, and tries hard to be a good leader. Riff also has a wise-guy sense of humor, and brings levity to the dire conflicts between the two gangs. Cast an excellent actor with great comic timing who can sing, dance, and command the stage in this crucial role.

Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2

Diesel is Riff’s lieutenant. He is big, slow, steady, and nice. Cast an actor in this role who is a solid singer and dancer with good stage presence.

Vocal range top: C4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Baby John

Baby John is the youngest Jet. He is in awe of everything and desperately wants to impress the other Jets. It’s best if Baby John reads as younger than the other gang members onstage.

Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: B2

A-Rab is smaller in stature and takes nothing seriously – until something offends him, and then his anger is explosive. He’s right in the thick of the Jets’ hijinks.

Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Db3

Action is the most violent of the Jets. A catlike ball of fury, he is always ready for a fight.

Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Big Deal

Big Deal is a bespectacled, self-styled expert on everything.

Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: E3
Snowboy and Geetar

Snowboy and Geetar are members of the Jets.


Anybodys is a spunky tomboy who wants to be accepted into the Jets as a member.


Tony is a former Jet and a romantic at heart. Though he still loves the Jets and his best friend Riff, he quit the gang and got a job, determined to have a future. Tony falls in love with Maria and dreams of their future together despite their places on opposite sides of the Jets/Sharks conflict. Tragically, instead of running away with Maria, Tony is killed. Cast a wonderful tenor and expressive actor in this heartbreaking role.

Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Jet Girls

The Jet Girls are ladies who support the Jets.


Velma is Riff’s girlfriend. She is slinky, slithery, and completely caught up in the glamor of being a Jet Girl. She should be a great dancer.


Graziella is Diesel’s girlfriend. She is very confident, a bit headstrong, and should be a great dancer.


Bernardo is the leader of the Sharks. He is handsome, proud, confident, and has a chip on his shoulder. Bernardo takes his position very seriously and feels responsible for helping the Sharks carve out their place in New York City. He also cares deeply for his fellow Sharks, especially his fiery girlfriend Anita and his sweet sister Maria.


Chino is shy, gentle, and sweet-faced – and the person Bernardo wants to marry his sister. Though Chino begins the story with a measure of naiveté, he is quickly caught up in the anger and hatred of the conflict between the rival gangs.


Pepe is Bernardo’s lieutenant. He is proud, strong, and ready to fight.


Indio is a member of the Sharks.

Shark Girls

The Shark Girls are ladies who support the Sharks.


Anita is Maria’s friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend. She is strong and world-wise, with a sharp tongue and a flashy style. She deeply loves Bernardo and Maria, and tries to shield Maria from the harsh truths of the world.

Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: F3

Maria is young, innocent, and optimistic about her life in America, but has an inner strength that shines painfully through by the end of the show. Maria falls instantly, completely in love with Tony – but as Bernardo’s younger sister, Tony is one of the worst people for whom she could have developed feelings. Maria’s journey is one of the most significant in the show.

Vocal range top: C6
Vocal range bottom: Bb3

Consuela is tough, young, bleached blonde, and brash. She is Pepe’s girfriend.

Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: C4

Rosalia is younger and more demure than Consuela. She is Indio’s girlfriend.

Vocal range top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: A3

Fransisca is one of the Shark Girls. She is young and quirky.

Vocal range top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: D4

Schrank is a plainclothes police officer. He is strong and very comfortable in command. Schrank has a pleasant, charming manner that is at odds with his hatred and bigotry.

Officer Krupke

Officer Krupke is a goon-like beat cop. He is not very bright and often the butt of the joke.


Doc is the owner of the store where Tony works and the Jets often meet. Doc is old-fashioned, wise, and tired out, but he tries to guide the Jets through their troubles.

Glad Hand

Glad Hand is a “square:” a smiling, overly cheerful, and utterly out of touch youth director at a gym.

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