|the plot in a nutshell|
If you haven't seen the 1961 film, West Side Story, coming into it cold in 2015 will feel like you're watching a movie about an alien world, but it's a musical that comes from a time and a place, and I'd hope that at least the music, choreography and cinematography would work for you. Maybe not. The oh, so clever audiences of the modern era have cleverly deduced that people don't actually sing and dance spontaneously and have rejected the genre.
For those of us who kind of grew up with the play and/ or movie (I saw it the first time at a local theater in Austin when I was about 13, the movie at least twice in high school and have seen the movie now about five or six times by my reckoning), it can be easy to take a lot of the actual story for granted. I know I was shown the movie in high school alongside Romeo and Juliet as we compared and contrasted the two stories as a class, and that's a good starting point. But I can't help but notice that being 40 and watching a story about the passion of teen-aged romance is a whole other burrito from watching the movie when your hormones are firing a million miles an hour and wanting to talk to girls and punch things are the two driving factors in your teen-age brain.*