West Side Stories – The Making of a Classic – 31 January 2021 – 31/1/2021 – Sunday – BBC Four
West Side Story is one of the best-loved musicals of all time. A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, its timeless story and exhilarating dance and music continue to excite audiences around the globe. Songs such as Maria, Somewhere, Tonight and America have all become some of the biggest hits in showbusiness. And yet, West Side Story had an uneasy birth and was even turned away by producers when it was first put together in the 1950s by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins and Arthur Laurents.
Now, as the world prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of West Side Story in 2017, dancer Bruno Tonioli and broadcaster Suzy Klein go in search of the true stories behind the inception of this classic show. For the first time on television, they hear first-hand from those involved in the show when it opened on Broadway in September 1957, including Sondheim himself, producer Hal Prince and original cast members from both show and movie, including Chita Rivera, Carol Lawrence and Rita Moreno. With the BBC Symphony Orchestra and specially cast singers, we relive some of the wonderful music and, in the company of Suzy and Bruno, discover how West Side Story placed the 1950s phenomena of racial tension and teenage gangs centre stage to create a hit that changed musical theatre forever.
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