West Side Story ingeniously recasts Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet against a setting of New York street gang rivalry in the 'juvenile delinquent' era of the mid-1950s.
In place of Shakespeare's warring families the Montagus and Capulets are at-odds gangs the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their mutual hatred has grown so volatile that it threatens to detonate at any moment.
Riff is the leader of the Jets. His best friend, ex-Jet Tony, meets Sharks leader Bernardo's younger sister Maria at a dance and they fall in love instantly and profoundly.
Maria and Tony meet in secret and plan to run away. But the Sharks and the Jets stage a rumble under the highway, with the winning gang gaining control of the streets. In a desperate attempt to end the violence Maria sends Tony to break up the meeting, but everything goes terribly wrong...