When You’re A Jet [West Side Story]

A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
240 Pages
Reviewed on 03/18/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joe Wisinski for Readers' Favorite

When You’re a Jet [West Side Story]—A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life by David Bean is the story of one of the cast members of the original film version of West Side Story. Author David Bean played one of the Jets, who was called Tiger. He also appeared in stage versions of the story. Bean also played a bit part—the fabric store owner in the “America” song—in the 2021 Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story. The book isn’t limited to Bean’s time working in West Side Story productions, however. It’s the story of his life as a dancer and actor, as well as his life outside his professional endeavors. The book contains many photographs of Bean’s time in theater and his personal life.

When You’re a Jet [West Side Story]—A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life is a must-read book. Anyone who enjoyed the original West Side Story, who is interested in the entertainment world, or who just likes to read fascinating, well-told autobiographies should read this wonderful story. Author David Bean is not only a talented actor and dancer, but he’s also a terrific writer. Readers will enjoy Bean’s insight into the making of West Side Story as well as the stories of his encounters with celebrities. This book is highly entertaining and provides an insightful look into the entertainment world. It's also inspirational and a feel-good story. Bean has lived, in his own words, an ordinary life, and yet an extraordinary one. He tells his story with humor, along with love for all those with whom he’s crossed paths, and, I add, have been fortunate enough to cross paths with him. Reading David Bean’s book was delightful and I highly recommend his superb story to anyone.

K.C. Finn

When You’re A Jet: A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life is a work of non-fiction in the memoir and autobiographical writing subgenres. It is intended for the general reading audience was penned by dancer and theatrical performer David Bean. As the title suggests, David uses his experience appearing in both the 1961 and 2021 film versions of West Side Story as a set of bookends to tell the tale of his incredible life and the many entertainment opportunities around the world in which he’s performed. From stage to screen over a span of sixty years, this unique life story allows readers to see what it means to truly dance for a living and to live for dancing.

As a huge fan of both musical theater and movie musicals, I was delighted to discover this highly engaging work by a talented dancer who has truly had an amazing wealth of experience and opportunities in his life. What was also utterly charming and an added bonus is that author David Bean is a truly captivating, warm, and engaging narrator who gladly invites readers into his life with an appealing personal writing style. It makes you feel right at home whilst reading and exploring the illustrations of this fascinating life story, which was also very well-formatted and beautifully presented to enhance readability. Overall, I would certainly recommend When You’re A Jet to fans of stage and screen, and most especially dance. It is an unmissable read for both its uplifting tone and its unique insight into the last six decades of dance in the fast-paced entertainment world.

Trudi LoPreto

What a wonderful story is told in When You’re A Jet [West Side Story]: A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life. David Bean tells us his life’s journey in great detail, from his early days starting with his role of Tiger in West Side Story and continuing for 60 years until he once again played a part in the new 2021 West Side Story years later. David has a perfect marriage, a lovely daughter, and so many life-changing experiences to share with us readers. He moved around and tried a variety of different and unrelated careers and was successful at each one. He met and was friends with many of the Hollywood, television, and Broadway names we are all so familiar with. He reveals a little about their real-life personalities which leads me to think of them very differently. There were many pictures included of his dancing days, his family life, and his time spent with friends that just added to the story.

I was a teenager when I first saw West Side Story and have watched it countless times over the years. I really enjoyed reading When You’re A Jet [West Side Story] and seeing it come alive on the pages. David Bean has told his story in a way that made it hard to stop reading and I was smiling at all the memories it brought back. If you enjoy autobiographical stories, this one is a must-read. All I can say is thank you, David Bean, for sharing your life with me.