West Side Story, Essential Revision Notes
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Table of Contents
West Side Story by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim
The creation of West Side Story was an extended process, involving decades of work, long periods of drought, and the collaboration of four of American musical theatre’s greatest standalone talents. The original idea for the musical came from director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, who wanted to adapt Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into a musical about the conflict between and Irish Catholic and a Jewish family in New York, tentatively called ‘East Side Story’.
Robbins approached composer Leonard Bernstein and book-writer Arthur Laurents about his idea in 1947, but other work and obligations soon interfered and the project was shelved. In 1955, inspired by the Chicano riots in Los Angeles, Bernstein and Laurents met again, and discussed changing the warring factions to the Puerto Ricans and Polish immigrants in Harlem, which Laurents felt he knew more about. Bernstein and Laurents brought this idea to Robbins, who was excited about creating a musical with Latin influence.
Now fully focused on the project – newly named West Side Story – Laurents approached Betty Comden and Adolf Green to write the lyrics. The two famous lyricists turned down the gig to work on Peter ...