Why “I Feel Pretty” isn’t in the “West Side Story” Revival

FAN Editor

Stephen Sondheim cringes when he hears “I Feel Pretty,” a fan favorite from his musical “West Side Story.” The 1957 tale of the rivalry between the Jets and Sharks returns to Broadway on Thursday without the song which makes Sondheim quiver.

Director Ivo van Hove and producer Scott Rudin decided to omit the tune to speed up the pace of their 2020 revival. The 89-year-old Sondheim will not miss it. On two occasions, he told 60 Minutes about his disdain for the song.

“What had happened was simply that it was my first show, I wanted to show off, I wanted to show that I could rhyme,” Sondheim said to us in an unaired portion of his 1988 profile.

“It’s alarming how charming I feel,” Sondheim remarked to correspondent Bill Whitaker in 2020. “Can you imagine a Puerto Rican girl who’s just arrived in the country and she’s singing it’s alarming how charming I feel?”

The lyricist and composer wanted to change the words to the song after the musical workshopped in Washington, D.C., but was overruled by its other creators.

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