Twenty pages of lists and notes on cast auditions for West Side Story in the Bernstein Collection record not only the broad range of actors who tried out for the play, but also provide insight into what Bernstein was seeking in a cast. Surprises among those auditioning are Suzanne Plechette (“hoarse”), Warren Beatty (“Good voice—can’t open his jaw—charming as hell—cleancut”), Jerry Orbach (“Good read. Good loud bar[itone]”), and Artie Johnson (“Good singer”). Among those actually cast, Larry Kert, who landed the role of Tony, initially auditioned for the roles of Bernardo and Rigg. As Bernstein comments: “Great singer + performer. But looks? Read Riff Better.” The original Maria, Carol Lawrence, is here described as “Lovely soprano. Not quite Maria. Much realer with accent.
West Side Story audition notes May 7th, 1957