It’s Gonna Be Tonight (Television Thoughts:West Side Stories: The Making Of A Classic)

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BBC Two has done an very interesting mini-documentary on the musical West Side Story, titled ‘West Side Stories: The Making of A Classic,’ and it’s really fascinating and well-done. It is hosted by Bruno Tonioni and Suzy Klein, and they both trace on how this musical was created.Perhaps for a show queen like myself, there weren’t a lot of ‘new’ information, but it was nice to see all of it presented on one show. Tonioni goes back and interviews dancers from the original company, and it was nice to see them now, probably in their sixties and seventies. Klein interviews some of the stars still living, like Carol Lawrence, and Rita Moreno, plus interviews with Leonard Bernstein’s daughter and the Master himself Stephen Sondheim. They are given bite-sized sound bites, and my only wish is that I wish there were more time given to their interviews. I have read about the numerous in-fighting between the creatives while the show was being mounted, and it would have been great to hear Sondheim’s take on it. He gives some, but not enough for someone as thirsty as me – could you imagine the interactions between Arthur Laurents and Robbins?  But above all, there is that score, which is one of the greatest in American musical theater history: each song a standard. The show has a cast sing the score, and Rob Houchen is a particularly affecting Tony, his ‘Maria’ closing the show and bringing me to tears. This is a musical, after all, and the music will forever touch me. For me, this show is imperfect, but I am just a more demanding client. You will find it endlessly fascinating.

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