Q: How did the idea emerge to do a new production of West Side Story?
A: Tom Hatcher, who was my partner for 52 years, told me he saw West Side Story in Colombia … [and] in Colombia, the Sharks were the heroes. The audience was cheering for them. Tom said, “Why not have the Sharks speak Spanish?”
I took the script in Spanish and had the whole thing gone over by Lin-Manuel Miranda; he wrote the score for In the Heights. I wanted a Puerto Rican to look at it, to advise us. He knows the Puerto Rican dialect.
Q: How much Spanish is there in this version?
A: It’s totally bilingual. Some parts are only in Spanish, with translations that will be provided in English. When Maria and Anita are alone, they speak Spanish. They sing in Spanish. It’s a conversation between friends.
[But] the musical will have a new look and sound that is more than just bilingual. We wrote it in 1957; everything was different then.