Part One: Making a New Kind of Musical Getting West Side Story from page to stage was no easy task. Its creators had to rewrite Shakespeare, invent a convincing street language and find financial backers for a musical that perplexed pretty much everyone who heard it.
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Part One: Making a New Kind of Musical

Part One: Making a New Kind of Musical

Listen to Part 1

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Creative giants: Stephen Sondheim (left), who'd go on to become one of theater's most celebrated composers, wrote the lyrics for West Side Story. Classical music superstar Leonard Bernstein was the composer, ballet and Broadway maven Jerome Robbins the director and choreographer. Alfred Eisenstadt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images hide caption

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Alfred Eisenstadt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Creative giants: Stephen Sondheim (left), who'd go on to become one of theater's most celebrated composers, wrote the lyrics for West Side Story. Classical music superstar Leonard Bernstein was the composer, ballet and Broadway maven Jerome Robbins the director and choreographer.

Alfred Eisenstadt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bad boys: Ken LeRoy's Bernardo (left) and Mickey Callin's Riff square off in West Side Story's famous rumble scene in this shot from the original Broadway production. Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images hide caption

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Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bad boys: Ken LeRoy's Bernardo (left) and Mickey Callin's Riff square off in West Side Story's famous rumble scene in this shot from the original Broadway production.

Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Audio Extras

Bernstein: How Sondheim got the job

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Sondheim and Laurents: Characterizing the chorus

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Lyric Sketch: 'Somewhere'

Wisconsin Historical Society. Used by permission, Stephen Sondheim. Image courtesy Library of Congress.