New "Radical" West Side Story Uses Officer Krupke to Condemn "Police Brutality"

If you can reinvent Julius Caesar as Donald Trump, it's a small hop and skip to reinventing Officer Krupke as " a screed against police brutality and mass incarceration."

When the left theater crowd brings back classical musicals, e.g. Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story, it inevitably turns them into one-note screeds that jettison the values of the original. So it is West Side Story's turn to be reinvented for the Trump age.

“I never saw myself playing a Jet, because I thought they’d always be white,” Jones says. “I never thought there’d be black people or Asian people as Jets. It’s special that people of color are playing all parts in West Side Story.” 

Because the bad people are the evil white overlords. 

The old movie had already jettisoned the more complex rendering of America for a straightforward condemnation of America. 

West Side Story reflect the existence of a white working class in Manhattan. That's obviously an absurd notion today.

This is starkly illustrated in the musical number Officer Krupke, which the Jets sing about a local policeman who’s been harassing them. In the film, it’s practically a gag number; in this revival, it becomes a screed against police brutality and mass incarceration. During rehearsals, the creative team initiated a dialogue about those issues, inviting cast members to share their experiences and perspectives. 

“They encouraged us to bring ourselves to the show so the team can speak to the audience,” Jones says. “It means the world to us.” Officer Krupke may be the show’s most radical update, more than its new choreography—in a way, the show’s thesis. “It's about the structural abuse of institutions, the police, the justice system, the social system, the health-care system,” van Hove says. “It was very clear that this was a very political song.”

The original conveyed the idea of a broken system in humorous form while at the same time putting plenty of the blame on the delinquents. But the new Party has to reinvent Officer Krupke as a humorless screed about the evils of the system oppressing trans gang members of color. Because to be truly Woke is to be humorless and shrill. Otherwise your loyalty is suspect. This is West Side Story as reinvented by Soviet apparatchiks. Enjoy, proles.

 

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