Bernstein Today

Summer Theater Preview: Where to Watch West Side Story and Six Ways to Get in the Mambo Mood!

What better time than summer to see a local production or film screening of one of the best musicals ever made, West Side Story?

We’ll help you get ready to ¡mambo!  Before you go, explore the stories behind the music and more with six of our favorite Bernstein Experience multimedia features, and then get tickets to see West Side Story near you.

“Somewhere” starts right here.

  1. West Side Story premiered on August 19, 1957 in Washington, DC, and on September 26, 1957 on Broadway in New York City. Why does this musical still resonate with audiences, sixty years later? Delve into this fun audio analysis of the tritone, how Bernstein “borrowed” from Beethoven, and more of what makes Bernstein’s West Side Story so special.
    American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990, standing) and composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, working on their musical, ‘West Side Story’, New York City, 1956. / Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
  2. Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents developed the plot of West Side Story one afternoon by the pool. Hear Bernstein tell the story behind the Sharks and Jets in this exclusive audio interview.
  3. What was it like for Bernstein the months leading up to the premiere? Listen to Jamie Bernstein, author of newly-published Famous Father Girl, read letters between her parents from that hot summer of 1957.
    Page 2 of letter from Leonard Bernstein to Felicia Bernstein, July 28, 1957. (Credit: Library of Congress, Music Division / Used by permission from Marie Carter, VP Licensing and Publishing, The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.)
  4. For Carol Lawrence, West Side Story‘s original Maria, the experience of starring in the first run is one she won’t soon forget. Watch Lawrence describe auditioning for Bernstein.
  5. Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras made a lovely couple as Maria and Tony in the historic 1984 recording of West Side Story, led by Bernstein himself. Enjoy four exclusive videos from that recording session, courtesy of Unitel!
    Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras at the West Side Story recording sessions in 1984. (Credit: Unitel)
  6. West Side Story is still inspiring composers, actors, and musicians of all stripes. Just ask Lin-Manuel Miranda.

So where will you watch West Side Story this summer? Here are some of our top picks.

Plus, for those of you near New York City on June 25, Broadway legend Chita Rivera will share songs and stories from her starring roles in West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, and more! Performances are at two and seven o’clock at the 92nd Street Y.

Enjoy West Side Story on a big screen

If your local theater isn’t presenting the musical soon, you may want to see West Side Story on the big screen on June 27, presented by Turner Classic movies and Fathom Events. Enter your zip code to find screenings near you. (On social media, look for hashtag #TCMbigscreen.)

Near North Carolina or Massachusetts in July? Watch the West Side Story film with a live orchestra!

Explore our <em>West Side Story</em> collection for more about this fan favorite.
Explore more about West Side Story!

Post updated June 26, 2018

More Bernstein at 100

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