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03 May

The two met at The Beverly Hills Hotel, and the conversation turned to juvenile delinquent gangs, a fairly recent social phenomenon that had received major coverage on the front pages of the morning newspapers due to a Chicano turf war.Bernstein suggested they rework East Side Story and set it in Los Angeles, but Laurents felt he was more familiar with Puerto Rican immigrants and Harlem than he was with Mexican Americans and Olvera Street.

In 1947, Jerome Robbins approached Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents about collaborating on a contemporary musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Eager to write his first musical, Laurents immediately agreed.

Bernstein wanted to present the material in operatic form, but Robbins and Laurents resisted the suggestion.

Initially he resisted, because he was determined to write the full score for his next project (Saturday Night had been aborted), but Oscar Hammerstein convinced him that he would benefit from the experience, and he accepted.

Meanwhile, Laurents had written a new draft of the book changing the characters' backgrounds: Anton, once an Irish American, was now of Polish and Irish descent, and the formerly Jewish Maria had become a Puerto Rican.