How I Took a Former Gang Member to See the New Broadway Production of “West Side Story”

June 5th, 2009

There are few more amusing sights to me than that of gang members who erupt into a frenzy of Sondheim lyrics and precision choreography. So a couple months ago I had the somewhat nutty idea that it would be fun to take an actual gang member–or a former gang member–to see the new Broadway production of West Side Story to witness the reaction to same. I got in touch with the public radio show Studio 360 and, several thousand e-mails later, found myself at the Palace Theater with Bruce George, a former member of the Bronx gang, Kaos Krew. The piece airs this weekend–you can hear it here, or find your local station here. I’m not sure which of Bruce’s reactions I like better–when he told me, “The people I’ve seen getting shot, they didn’t sing tunes,” or his reaction when I busted his chops for checking his e-mail during the Jets and Sharks’s rumble.