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Happy Birthday to Arthur Laurents
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West Side Story : Geniuses at Work

By Dennis Razze

“The radioactive fallout from West Side Story must still be descending on Broadway this morning.”

This was the opening line of Walter Kerr’s review of the opening night performance of West Side Story published in the New York Herald Tribune on September 27, 1957. To Kerr, the impact of the musical was as if an atomic bomb dropped on Manhattan—West Side Story certainly changed the American musical forever.
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Happy Birthday to Arthur Laurents

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Today is Arthur Laurent's birthday

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Letters Show Leonard Bernstein Almost Walked Away From WEST SIDE STORY

by BWW News Desk

The Guardian writes that a new collection of letters by famed composer Leonard Bernstein -- Nigel Simeone's Leonard Bernstein Letters, set to debut next month -- reveal the composer's 'hostility' for WEST SIDE STORY book writer Arthur Laurents. Bernstein even considered walking away from the project, according to one of the letters.
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A new canción for ‘West Side Story’

LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times

For two years in the late 1950s, “West Side Story” electrified Broadway audiences, recasting Shakespeare’s Montagues and Capulets as troubled teenagers on New York’s upper west side.

But for the musical’s fiftieth anniversary, changes outside the theater made revivals of “West Side” seem dated. In 2009, the late Arthur Laurents, then 93, transformed the show by making it darker and more violent; addition, the Puerto Rican characters speak Spanish.
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West Side Story is a timeless classic

By Ben Ryland

Arthur Laurents directed a “West Side Story” for the 21st century. The recent acclaimed 2009 Broadway revival tour will play this weekend at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester for five performances Dec. 28-30. Laurents’ production has been recreated for the tour by David Saint and choreographed by Joey McKneely reproducing the original Jerome Robbins icon work.

“I thought ‘West Side Story’ was going to be a flop,” states Laurents who passed away shortly after the revival opened in New York City in March 2009. “I thought it would run for three months…I felt the gangs in the original production were sweet little things. I wanted to do a much tougher ‘West Side Story.’” More than 50 years later he had the chance.
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Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy

As Sir Robin carols merrily to King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot, “In any great adventure, if you don’t want to lose…you won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.”

Eric Idle’s cheeky lyric, which unfailingly generated knowing guffaws from Broadway audiences, proves to be more than a little grounded in truth, as Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy convincingly attests.

This new 90-minute documentary by Michael Kantor, creator of the Emmy-winning series, Broadway: The American Musical, airs on Great Performances Tuesday, January 1 at 9:30 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)
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Broadway : the American Musical, Episode Five : Tradition . The first ten minutes are devoted to West Side Story and includes interviews with Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Arthur Laurents, critic Frank Rich, composer Jonathan Sheffer and Julie Taymor. Clips include one from the Ed Sullivan Show of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert singing Tonight, clips of American & Cool from the film and a few stills from the 1957 production rehearsals.

Well worth catching if you can find it.
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title or description
Robert Griffin, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Gerald Freedman, Sylvia Drulie and unidentified man.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/20/theater/swope-photographs.html?ref=theater
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Arthur Laurents' Estate Auction Set for 6/2

Roland Auctions of New York City will be selling the estate of legendary playwright, director, and screenwriter, Arthur Laurents on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

Mr. Laurents, whose credits include West Side Story, Gypsy, La Cage Aux Folles, Hallelujah, Baby and The Way We Were, amongst many others, had a long and distinguished career, both on Broadway and in Hollywood. He directed "I Can Get It For You Wholesale", launching the career of Barbra Streisand, and was hand-selected by Alfred Hitchcock to adapt his play "Rope" for the screen, starring Jimmy Stewart and Farley Granger.
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West Side Story: the hit that almost didn’t happen

By Richard Ouzounian
Theatre Critic

It’s the best musical that you almost never saw.

West Side Story starts a run for Dancap Productions at the Toronto Centre for the Arts this week. It’s the touring company from the most recent Broadway revival of a show that everyone now not only considers a classic but credits with having taken the musical theatre in new and darker directions.

And it almost didn’t happen. Three times.
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BWW Interviews: David Saint, Director WEST SIDE STORY National Tour Now Playing at NJPAC

by Caryn Robbins

David Saint is currently directing the National tour of WEST SIDE STORY, a production based on the highly successful 2009 Broadway revival. The tour is currently playing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
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West Side Story
A Puerto Rican reading of "America"

by Alberto Sandoval Sanchez

"My final prayer:
O my body, make of me always a man who questions!"
— Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

To my nephew and niece in the U.S.A.,
Laura and Vladimir Estrada Sandoval

After my immigration to Wisconsin in 1973 to attend college, the musical film WEST SIDE STORY frequently was imposed upon me as a "model of of/for" my Puerto Rican ethnic identity. Certainly it was a strange and foreign model for a newcomer, but not for the Anglo-Americans who actualize with my bodily presence their stereotypes of Latinos' Otherness. Over and over again, to make me feel comfortable in their family rooms and to tell me of their knowledge about Puerto Ricans, they would start their conversations with WEST SIDE STORY: "Al, we loved WEST SIDE STORY." "Have you seen the movie'?" "Did you like it?" On other occasions, some people even sang parodically in my ears: "Alberto, I've just met a guy named Alberto." And, how can I forget those who upon my arrival would start tapping flamenco steps and squealing: "I like to be in America!...Everything free in America."[1][open notes in new window] As the years passed by I grew accustomed to their actions and reactions to my presence. I would smile and ignore the stereotype of Puerto Ricans that Hollywood promotes. Or perhaps, was I unwilling to identify with the Puerto Rican immigrants living in New York because of my own prejudices of class or race?
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West Side Story
A Puerto Rican reading of "America"

by Alberto Sandoval Sanchez

"My final prayer:
O my body, make of me always a man who questions!"
— Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

To my nephew and niece in the U.S.A.,
Laura and Vladimir Estrada Sandoval

After my immigration to Wisconsin in 1973 to attend college, the musical film WEST SIDE STORY frequently was imposed upon me as a "model of of/for" my Puerto Rican ethnic identity. Certainly it was a strange and foreign model for a newcomer, but not for the Anglo-Americans who actualize with my bodily presence their stereotypes of Latinos' Otherness. Over and over again, to make me feel comfortable in their family rooms and to tell me of their knowledge about Puerto Ricans, they would start their conversations with WEST SIDE STORY: "Al, we loved WEST SIDE STORY." "Have you seen the movie'?" "Did you like it?" On other occasions, some people even sang parodically in my ears: "Alberto, I've just met a guy named Alberto." And, how can I forget those who upon my arrival would start tapping flamenco steps and squealing: "I like to be in America!...Everything free in America."[1][open notes in new window] As the years passed by I grew accustomed to their actions and reactions to my presence. I would smile and ignore the stereotype of Puerto Ricans that Hollywood promotes. Or perhaps, was I unwilling to identify with the Puerto Rican immigrants living in New York because of my own prejudices of class or race?
Read more... )
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‘It was revolutionary’
‘West Side Story’ the enduring standard by which musicals are judged

By Michael Grossberg
The Columbus Dispatch

The Jets and Sharks are back on tour, although the American consciousness was never really without them.

In the 55 years since the premiere of the original production, West Side Story has become a touchstone of American life and culture.

“In retrospect, it was revolutionary,” said David Saint, associate director of the national tour, which will open on Tuesday for a weeklong run at the Ohio Theatre.

“Today, people use the musical as such a standard.”
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