USU1330 Creative Arts – Spring 2014

USU1330 Creative Arts – Spring 2014

WORKSHEET #3: West Side Story
SUBMISSION DATE: Monday March 17th

Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, originally staged on Broadway in 1957, is one of the most famous, important, and popular American musicals ever produced. In view of this, this worksheet is designed for you to undertake your own research into the history and background of the play prior to answering the following questions.

1. Upon which famous Shakespeare play is West Side Story based? What are the supposedly timeless or universal values in both plays that allow for a reworking of a story from Elizabethan England to 1950s New York?

2. What is the source of the antagonism between the rival gangs?

3. How might you reimagine the musical if it was updated to contemporary America? Who would be the gangs? Where might it take place? What type of music might be employed?

4. What are the broad ideological messages we are meant to be drawing from the musical?

5. Have a look at clips of the original film version of West Side Story (available on youtube). Then discuss the specifics of the production as staged at the Ellen Eccles Theatre. To what extent do you think it might capture the spirit of the original film?

6. Which is your favorite musical number and why?

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