Memories of a Jet and a Shark

Marilyn D'Honau (a Jet) and Liane Plane (a Shark) members of the original Broadway cast remember West Side Story.

By The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Dancers in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Two of the original cast members of West Side Story still live and teach in New York City.

Marilyn D'Honau
(who played a Jet named Clarice)

...and Liane Plane
(who played a Shark named Marguerita)

Introductions The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

In February of 2017, Marilyn and Liane visited the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and recorded some of their memories of working on West Side Story.

Dancers in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Marilyn and Liane discuss how their performance backgrounds were unusual in the 1950s.

Chita Rivera (seen from higher angle) in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Marilyn D'Honau was a senior in high school when the show opened. Her memories of the show are also the memories of a high school student.

Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in wedding scene from the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

The run of the show was also an important time in Liane's life.

Jets and Sharks tension (kinda) The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Many histories of West Side Story recount how director Jerome Robbins tried to create authentic tension between the Jets and the Sharks. Liane and Marilyn remember...

Jerome Robbins directs dancers in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

The cast remembers Jerome Robbins' genius and his demanding direction.

Peter Gennaro directing dancers in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Peter Gennaro, assistant choreographer, choreographed many of the Shark's dances.

Leonard Bernstein during opening night party at Roseland for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Avery Willard The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Memories of composer Leonard Bernstein

ANTA students under marquee during the stage production West Side Story at the Broadway Theatre (1957) by Avery Willard The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

The show was not immediately well-received.

Publicity photographs of actors celebrating backstage the first anniversary for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Friedman-Abeles The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Some of the cast backstage at the first anniversary of the show.

Publicity photographs of actors celebrating backstage the first anniversary for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Friedman-Abeles The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Reri Grist, who sang "Somewhere" from the orchestra pit, went on to become a famous opera singer.

Leonard Bernstein conducting orchestra during opening night party at Roseland for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Avery Willard The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

After West Side Story many of the Jets and Sharks, including Liane and Marilyn, moved into television.

Dancers in rehearsal for the stage production West Side Story (1957) by Martha Swope The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Even 60 years later, though, the cast loves remembering West Side Story.

Marilyn D'Honau and Liane Plane (2017-02-24) by Misy Singson The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Thanks to Marilyn and Liane for sharing their memories!

Credits: Story

Interview with Marilyn D'Honau and Liane Plane at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Interviewer: Misy Singson

Thanks to the staff of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division for the use of their oral history studio.

Exhibit curated by Doug Reside

Original 1957 Scenic Design by Oliver Smith, © Rosaria Sinisi

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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