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Celebrating West Side Story : North Carolina Schools of the Arts 50th Anniversary Production by John Mauceri.

The pdf introduction can be seen here and talks about the place of West Side Story in the Broadway of 1957 as well as the effect the production had on Leonard Bernstein (Mauceri worked with Bernstein for eighteen years).

Besides some great photographs of their production, they brought in Carol Lawrence, Michael Callan, Grover Dale and Jamie Bernstein for a symposium. The most interesting tidbit is that Carol Lawrence said Read more... )
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‘West Side Story’ in Cleveland A stronger Maria

By John Benson

When Ali Ewoldt was named as Maria in the touring production of the Broadway revival of “West Side Story,” which comes through Cleveland May 3 through 15 at the Palace Theatre, the veteran stage actress felt comfortable in the role. After all, she’d played the lead in an international tour of the Tony Award-winning musical written by legends Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

However, this all changed when Ewoldt had a chance to talk to Laurents, who consulted on this show, which features such classics of the American musical theater as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”
Read more... )
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Meet the men of West Side Story (on tour)

by Jim Halterman

It’s no big surprise when thinking of the most iconic American musicals of the 20th Century that West Side Story is easily at the top of the list. The Romeo And Juliet-esque love story of Tony and Maria, the battle between gangs the Jets and the Sharks and, of course, the script by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the amazing choreography by Jerome Robbins has made it one of the most memorable stage musicals ever and the film adaptation is still seen as one of the best movie musicals ever produced.

With a successful revival on Broadway closing, West Side Story has also hit the road and is now touring the United States. Read more... )
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Original West Side Story film stars George Chakiris (Bernardo) and Russ Tamblyn (Riff) were among those on hand to celebrate the Nov. 30 opening of the show's national tour at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre.
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West Side Story:
Fifty years later, and just as sharp as ever

By Kristi Casey Sanders

Where were you the first time you saw West Side Story? Christopher B. Manos, Theater of the Stars [TOTS] producer, was on a date with his wife, dancer Glenn Ryman, in 1957.
Read more... )
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Hi everyone! A while ago, I posted these over at my icon community. I thought some of you might be interested :)

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Broadway Actors Who Are Bracing for Final Curtain


In the theater every closing night stirs up a bevy of feelings: sadness, elation, relief, anxiety. Those and many other emotions will be running high across Broadway soon, as 15 productions — almost half the shows currently playing — are scheduled to go dark by the end of January. (Reasons for the mass exodus vary; some shows are closing because of sagging ticket sales, others are finishing limited engagements.)

For actors who have been with their shows for several years, from workshops to Broadway, closing-night tears often sting more sharply. Playing the same character eight shows a week will do that to a person. Five actors spoke about saying goodbye to their characters and what will happen after the curtains come down.
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On Broadway: when West Side Story opened 50 years ago, dance on Broadway changed forever. But what became of its legacy?

by Sylviane Gold

So now it's been 50 years. The show that would make everything different and raise the stakes for American musicals in every creative arena, and dance especially--gave its very first performance on August 19, 1957, in Washington, D.C.

It was, Leonard Bernstein wrote to his wife the next day, "just as we dreamed it. All the ... agony and postponements and re-re-re-writing turn out to have been worth it."

Well, yes. West Side Stop, begun eight years earlier with Jerome Robbins' idea for a Romeo and Juliet story' set in a New York slum, was on at last. And no one had ever seen anything like it. These days, when entertainment "news" pervades the media and just about none of it matters, it's hard to imagine the sensation when it arrived on Broadway.
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West Side Story is one of the best musicals ever written, according to Frank Rich, former chief theater critic at New York Times.

And Rich's favorite moment is the "Tonight" quintet: The gangs are getting ready for a rumble, while the lovers are planning a rendezvous.

"Bernstein's bringing all these themes together — it's such highly charged drama," says Rich. "It's the fulcrum of the show, dramatically, when everything has become like a train rushing forward, in a tragedy. And you have this sense of cinematic cross-cutting, done without cinema; done by the art of the theater. That is pretty hard to beat."
Read more... )
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West Side Story was written for a large, young cast. There are lead roles, but the creators weren't looking for stars to fill them.

"Everybody has to seem to be a teenager, and be able to sing a very difficult score, act a very difficult book and dance very difficult dances," recalled Leonard Bernstein at a Dramatists Guild symposium a few years before his death.

Carol Lawrence was 23 when she was called in to audition — over and over again — for the lead role of Maria. The repeated callbacks earned the displeasure of Actors Equity, the performers' union.

"I did 13 auditions, and that got me into all kinds of trouble with Equity," Lawrence recalls. "They did write a law that was, for a while, known as the Carol Lawrence Law, and it says you cannot audition a person more than three times without paying them."

For her final audition, Lawrence was paired with a young chorus boy named Larry Kert, who was up for the part of Tony. The two rehearsed and memorized the balcony scene, but director Jerome Robbins wanted to make the moment spontaneous. He asked Kert to leave the theater.
Read more... )
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Part One: Making a New Kind of Musical
Jeff Lunden and Scott Simon

Listen to Part 1

Slideshow: See and hear 50 years of 'West Side Story' magic

From its opening moments, West Side Story announced that it was not going to be just another lighthearted Broadway musical.

Based on Romeo and Juliet, the show updated Shakespeare's tragedy of star-crossed lovers and set it on the mean streets of Manhattan.

The creators were a dream team of top theater artists: director and choreographer Jerome Robbins, playwright Arthur Laurents, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein.

The curtain comes up on a group of teenage punks smoking cigarettes. In the riveting prologue, a conflict between the two rival gangs — the Puerto Rican-born Sharks, led by Bernardo, and the New York-born Jets, led by Riff — is introduced.

"They were under the streetlight," remembers Grover Dale, who played Snowboy, one of the Jets, in the original cast. "Riff steps forward in the darkness, and he kind of surveys the territory. And he starts snapping his fingers."
Read more... )
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Photos of the National Touring Company production are now up on Ali Ewoldt's Facebook.

Additional photos from Kyle's website :
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George Heymont
San Francisco-based arts critic

Revisiting West Side Story (VIDEOS)

Singers often like to put their own personal stamp on a piece of popular music. Louis Armstrong's recording of the title song from Hello, Dolly! became an instant hit on the radio (as did Eydie Gormé's rendition of "If He Walked Into My Life" from Jerry Herman's next show, Mame). While Cher's attempt to sing all the roles in West Side Story is a nice concept, no one ever took it too seriously.

Although I did not see the original production of West Side Story, I've been lucky to see several others (ranging from the 1964 New York City Center revival to the 1980 Broadway revival and Opera Pacific's 1987 production).
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Review: Thrilling 'West Side Story' revival even better than original

By Pat Craig

"West Side Story's" sparkling and emotionally engaging new revival opened Wednesday night in San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre. But there was quite a bit of sparkle and emotional engagement before the overture could start -- much of that due to the glowing embers of cell phones flickering like tiny campfires in the palms of the Giants' faithful.

The city's beloved baseball team was in the first game of the World Series and fans weren't going to let a little thing like an updated version of a classic American musical keep them from savoring every pitch until the "really, we're serious" version of turn off your cell phones alert was sounded. At the opening curtain, as an announcer informed us, the Giants were ahead, and by intermission, they had already won -- a fact that got some of the loudest applause of the evening.

And the show wasn't bad, either. It was incredible, in fact. Read more... )
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Arthur Laurents talks about 'West Side' revival
David D'Arcy, Special to The Chronicle

Arthur Laurents, author and director of the new production of "West Side Story," is a vigorous 92. He and the show's original lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, a mere 80, are the last men standing from a collaborative dream team that also included composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins.

The musical, now 53 years old, begins a monthlong visit to San Francisco this week.
Read more... )
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‘West Side Story’ scores a hit at the Fisher

Special to The Detroit News

A brand new touring production of “West Side Story” launched its national run Wednesday night at the Fisher Theatre, and it may safely be christened a triumph right out of the gate.

Modeled after the Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical’s recent Broadway revival, this mesmerizing show feels new-born fresh in the care of a youthful cast that brings the whole theatrical package - singing, dancing and acting in a seamless blend of skills and story-telling.
Read more... )


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