Music Theatre International Releases New Version of West Side Story Tailored to High Schools | Playbill

Education News Music Theatre International Releases New Version of West Side Story Tailored to High Schools The arrival of West Side Story School Edition coincides with the anniversary of the legendary show's Broadway premiere.
Karen Olivo and company Joan Marcus

Music Theatre International (MTI) has released West Side Story School Edition for licensing to high schools and amateur theatre groups worldwide. The release arrives on the heels of the 61st anniversary of West Side Story's debut on Broadway in 1967.


Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents' musical, an updated telling of Romeo and Juliet, opened at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957. Directed, choreographed, and conceived by Jerome Robbins, the musical went on to run for 732 performances and win two Tony Awards (for Best Choreography and Scenic Design). The work was made into a film in 1961 starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

A Broadway revival, directed by Ivo van Hove, is slated to open in 2020, and a big screen remake from Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner is also in the works.

With slight alterations for content that simplify difficult production, musical, or choreographic elements, MTI's school editions also include additional resources for students and directors to make classic musicals more accessible and appropriate for high school performers. West Side Story is the latest school edition release, joining Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, Avenue Q, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Ragtime, Rent, and Sweeney Todd.

Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in a promotional photo for West Side Story. Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Resources available to companies producing West Side Story School Edition include guide vocal tracks, a director's guide filled with suggestions from industry experts, an educational study guide, performance accompaniment tracks, a digital logo package, and more.

“MTI has been privileged to represent what is widely considered one of the greatest musical theatre works ever created,” shared Drew Cohen, MTI President and CEO. “While West Side Story has always been and remains an iconic and perennially popular musical, it presented certain challenges for high school theatre programs. We were fortunate to have the support of the rightsholders and a brilliant team in bringing this adaptation to life for the amateur market. We hope that West Side Story School Edition enables thousands more young performers, crew members and audiences around the world to experience this phenomenal musical as it was meant to be seen and heard.”

“We created MTI’s School Editions to help realize our overall educational mission of making musical theatre accessible to as many organizations as possible,” added Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education and Development John Prignano. “In the case of West Side Story, re-creating Robbins' groundbreaking choreography and playing Bernstein's gorgeous score has been a consistent challenge for high school performers and directors trying to mount the show. West Side Story School Edition is a response to feedback from teachers that will remove these obstacles, in part by providing an official Choreography Manual and videos featuring step-by-step instructions for all of the show's iconic dance numbers.”

MTI shows are currently featured on PLAYBILLder. Visit to learn how to create and print your own Playbill programs to engage and build your audience! Share your Playbill virtually, promote your show through social media, distribute programs in your theatre and much more.

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