In December 2021** acclaimed film director Steven Spielberg will release his first musical, a remake of West Side Story. In anticipation of the film’s opening, this lecture will discuss the creation, history and legacy of the original Broadway play, now more than 60 years old.
We will cover the inception and development of the original score and script. For many of us, when we think of West Side Story, we think of Leonard Bernstein. However, the play was a collaborative effort of 5 brilliant men: playwright Arthur Laurents, choreographer Jerome Robbins, producer Hal Prince, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and of course, composer Leonard Bernstein. These men all left their own contributions to the final product. We will discuss what was happening in their lives, both creatively and personally, when the show was developed.
However, it is the music that lives on, more than any other element of the show. The score combines elements of classical opera, Latin folk music and early rock. We will look at specific works within these genres that may have influenced Bernstein, and compositional techniques that he employed to make the music so powerful, effective, beautiful and timeless.
(**Originally, the movie was to be released December 2020, but Covid delayed that to December 10, 2021, which is the 60th anniversary of the 1961 film’s release.)