For those who are involved in musical theater I have a question. The talk yesterday about West Side Story got me thinking.
I have seen WSS many times on stage. There is one scene that has been different a few times. Youth versions always has the scene with Maria's friend trying to warn Tony being just a pushing scene. Adult companies one like the youth company it was just a pushing scene. Another adult company simulated rape which from my understanding the original version.
In Grease the young company version leaves out the pregnancy storyline the adult version leaves it in.
In Hair which I have never seen on stage the nude scene is now optional.
When I was five my mother took me to see Oliver. It was my first musical I saw on stage. My mother has throughout the years repeat the story of when Bill jumps off the stage after killing Nancy I let out a blood curdling scream. She realized that taking preschoolers to musicals is not a great idea. Every version I have seen Nancy is always killed although Bill jumping off the stage has been in some not others.
How do you decide what to modify when doing a musical? Is it based on the performers or the audience. I can see WSS scene being a huge triggering scene for the audience and the performers that you may want to turn it into a mere pushing scene. Hair's nude scene well local laws could come into play. I would hope every version of Oliver Bill shoots Nancy since it would make the tension of the last few scenes go away. Although I would have no problem if Nancy lived.
Yet I am torn. Do you stick to original as written and meant or modify it for audience and performers? I give leeways to youth companies but adult companies? I say no. The scene in WSS as intended makes the audience know these are not the Bowery Boys in over their heads but are a racist territorial sreet gang and not good kids playing with fire minus Tony. Although if he had not met Maria would he have participated? Granted the scenerio would have been different.