"America" — Broadway Song of the Day

"America" — Broadway Song of the Day

 Liane Plane and Chita Rivera

Liane Plane and Chita Rivera

With all the anti-immigrant sentiment floating around our there, I thought that I would celebrate a Broadway song that is all about the reasons behind people coming to America. True, the song I'm referring to reveres "America" in contrast to Puerto Rico (which is, incidentally, in America), but the sentiment is the same. We are supposed to be a nation of promises and hope. Thinking about Puerto Rico today post-hurricane and distressed that the powers that be have forgotten that they are a part of our nation. My heart also aches about how we don't include he human race in our fold, but we are a world of haves and have-nots, and that attitude tends to prevail. 

In the musical West Side Story, the lady friends of a Puerto Rican street gang (The Sharks) have a little musical discussion about their native island and how it compares to living in America. Though some of them long for the island of tropical breezes, they concede that there is a great deal more opportunity in the continental United States. The Leonard Bernstein music and Stephen Sondheim lyrics are almost at odds with each other, the former conjuring a frantic Latin sound while the latter's poetry paints an ironic case for and against America's charms. I can't help but feeling that this dichotomy hasn't changed much since 1957 when West Side Story first premiered. The Jets vs. The Sharks is a story that will always remain relevant in a country where being different is outwardly opposed and violence is sanctioned by its erratic administration. "I like to be in America?", but maybe we should have carved a better one in the sixty years since this musical's themes felt ripe. The musical stays fresh but the recurring hate it captures has gone stale and tired.

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