Yesterday I had the chance to see West Side Story performed at the school where I teach. It might be the 20th time I've seen the production on screen or on stage. It might be the 100th time I've listened to the music. Still, I was moved to tears at the end. Is that a testament to how good of a job the students did? Perhaps. It also meant a lot to me that many of the kids on stage are kids I've come to like and admire in two years of teaching them.
I found myself viewing the show with a new set of eyes, however. At its core, West Side Story is a tale of kids in over their heads pretending to be older than they really are. The kids fight for turf, hold war councils, marry (in a sense). They're kids playing adult games. As such, they play with forces more powerful than they are ready to handle, and a series of bad decisions fueled by anger and mistrust kill a couple trusted in one another and their peers to a fault. Perhaps what I saw yesterday, was the musical for the first time as a father. And it was a different experience.