I heard all the music as Lenny composed it, and Steve wrote the lyrics …
Prince reveals how he agreed to produce West Side Story after hearing some of the music surreptitiously from Steve Sondheim, a close friend — then later, played by “Lenny” himself — in these excerpts from an exclusive interview with Classical.org.
Meeting Bernstein, Hearing Music through Sondheim
Prince met Bernstein in the 1950’s, while working as an assistant stage manager on Wonderful Town.
[Lenny] was full of buoyant energy …
I also knew about West Side Story, which apparently had a 12-year gestation period… I heard all the music as Lenny composed it… (but) I was not supposed to.
‘We have no show’
As he and his artistic partners were struggling on their third show in three years, Prince asks Sondheim about his show: West Side Story.
I was not supposed to have heard the score, so I acted like I didn’t… but then I forgot, and I started to hum along…
What makes the music of West Side Story special?
West Side Story became a sparkling jewel in Prince’s crown of theatrical successes.
Everything about [West Side Story] was exciting… during rehearsals, I’d just sit there in awe …
About this content
This content is from an exclusive interview of Hal Prince by Classical.org’s Anthony J. Rudel, recorded in New York, New York, on December 7, 2017. Copyright: WGBH/Classical.org. All rights reserved.