West Side Stories - The Making of a Classic

West Side Stories - The Making of a Classic


West Side Story is 60 next year, and its plea for tolerance chimes as much as it did during the New York riots of the 50s. But as Strictly’s Bruno Tonioli and Suzy Klein discover, its creation produced stories as exhilarating and moving as the musical itself.

Venerated wordsmith Stephen Sondheim recalls his niggly relationship with genius composer Leonard Bernstein (“He was very fond of changing my lyrics”), but also tells of perfectionist choreographer Jerome Robbins altering Bernstein’s orchestration. Rehearsals were tense and rumble scenes ended in blood and breakages.

But such a risky proposition gave rise to a work of art, and a universal prayer. It’s an enthralling analysis.


West Side Story is one of the best-loved musicals of all time, with its timeless story and exhilarating dance and music continuing to excite audiences around the globe. Songs such as Maria, Somewhere, Tonight and America having become some of the biggest hits in showbusiness and yet the musical had an uneasy birth and was even turned away by producers when it was first put together in the 1950s. In this documentary, Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli and Radio 3 presenter Suzy Klein examine the origins of West Side Story, which brought together the talents of Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Bruno Tonioli
Presenter Suzi Klein
Director Ursula Macfarlane
Executive Producer Ben Weston
Producer Ursula Macfarlane