Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Two tongues for West Side Story

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Karen Olivo as Anita sings one of the new Spanish songs, Un Hombre Asi

A new version of West Side Story, in which the cast use two different languages, has opened on Broadway.

The tale of lovers from rival gangs has been part translated into Spanish to reflect the fact that half the story is set in a Puerto Rican community.

Dialogue between members of the Shark gang is now in Spanish and several of the songs have also been translated.

Director Arthur Laurents said: "I wanted it to be more like life and that's what they speak in life."

Laurents was also the writer of the story for the original, which was loosely based on the story of Romeo and Juliet.

The show first opened on Broadway in 1957 with music by Leonard Bernstein and choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Matt Cavenaugh and Josefina Scaglione
21-year-old Argentinean Josefina Scaglione plays Maria

Since then, it has gained popularity around the world, boosted by the 1961 film starring Natalie Wood.

The translation for the new version has been done by Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won a Tony award for the 2008 Broadway hit, In the Heights.

His version of the classic song I Feel Pretty is Siento Hermosa.

Miranda worked in conjuction with the original lyricist Stephen Sondheim and told the New York Daily News: "I could use whatever imagery that would work in Spanish but the lyrics had to rhyme for the English listener.

"It was a tall order, but a really fun challenge."



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