‘Tonight’ From ‘West Side Story’ Is Based on This Famous ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Scene—Read the Lyrics

West Side Story
Photo: Niko Tavernise /© 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection.

If you’ve watched the 2021 West Side Story movie (or the 1961 original film), you may want to read the “Tonight” West Side Story lyrics to relive the magic of one of the most romantic duets in movie-musical history.

West Side Story—created by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sonndheim—premiered on Broadway in 1957. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, the show is set in the mid-1950s in the Upper West Side of New York City and explores the rivalry between two teenage street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. The Jets are a white gang, while the members of the Sharks or their families are from Puerto Rico. The musical follows Tony—a former member of the Jets and the best friend of the gang’s leader, Riff—fall in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks, Bernardo.

After its debut on Broadway, West Side Story went on to run for 732 performances and be nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 1958. A movie adaptation of the musical, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as Maria and Tony, was made in 1961. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10, including Best Picture. A second film adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as Maria and Tony, premiered in December 2021.


In the first act of the musical is “Tonight,” a love duet between Tony and Maria sung while Tony visits Maria on a fire escape outside of her apartment. The song is an adaptation of the famous “balcony” scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which was the inspiration for West Side Story and saw Romeo climb the balcony of Juliet’s home to visit her in secret. In West Side Story, “Tonight” is performed at a pivotal moment in the first act when Tony and Maria confess their love for each other.

The song is reprised at the end of act one as “Tonight Quintent” when Tony, Maria, Anita, Riff and Bernardo anticipate a fight between the Jets and Sharks. According to reports, “One Hand, One Heart”—which Tony and Maria sing later in act one when they dream of their wedding together—was originally the song they were written to sing in the balcony scene, but the scene was changed as the creators felt “One Hand, One Heart” was too innocent for two teenagers in love. The 1961 West Side Story performance of “Tonight” is listed as number 59 on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Songs,” which ranks the best songs in the past century from American movies.

Read the full lyrics to “Tonight” from West Side Story, via TheMusicalLyrics.com, below. West Side Story is in theaters now and will be available to stream on Disney Plus in 2022. Here’s how to watch it for free.


"West Side Story" Soundtrack

Image: Courtesy of Hollywood Record.

West Side Story 2021 Soundtrack

“Tonight” West Side Story lyrics

MARIA:

Only you, you’re the only thing I’ll see forever.

In my eyes, in my words and in ev’rything I do,

Nothing else but you.

Ever!

TONY:

And there’s nothing for me but Maria,

Ev’ry sight that I see is Maria.

MARIA:

Tony. Tony…

TONY:

Always you, ev’ry thought I’ll ever know, MARIA:

Ev’rywhere I go, you’ll be, you and me! All the world is only you and me!

(They kiss)

Tonight, tonight,

It all began tonight,

I saw you and the world went away.

Tonight, tonight,

There’s only you tonight,

What you are, what you do, what you say.

Today, a1l day I had the feeling

A miracle would happen.

I know now I was right.

For here you are,

And what was just a world is a star

Tonight!

BOTH:

Tonight. tonight,

The world is full of light,

With suns and moons all over the place.

Tonight, tonight,

The world is wild and bright.

Going mad, shooting sparks into space.

Today the world was just an address.

A place for me to live in,

No better than all right,

But here you are

And what was just a world is a star

Tonight!

(They kiss. Maria goes inside.)

TONY:

Tonight! Tonight!

It all began tonight

I saw you and the world went away

MARIA (returning): I cannot stay. Go quickly!

TONY: I am not afraid!

MARIA: They are strict with me. Please!

TONY: I love you.

MARIA: Yes, yes, hurry. Go! (He climbs down.)

Buenas noches!

MARIA: Wait! When will! See you? (He starts back up.)

TONY: Tomorrow

MARIA: I work at the bridal shop. Come there.

TONY: At sundown

MARIA: Yes. Good night.

TONY: Good night (starts off)

MARIA: Tony!

TONY: Ssh!

MARIA: Come to the back door

TONY: Si.

MARIA: Tony! (He stops.) What does Tony stand for?

TONY: Anton.

MARIA: Te adoro. Anton…

TONY: Te adoro, Maria!

BOTH:

Good night, good night,

Sleep well and when you dream,

Dream of me…

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