Great works: West Side Story

Course Dates: 02/08/22
Time: 13:00 - 16:00
Location: Keeley Street
Sixty-five years ago, West Side Story took Broadway by storm, and now a new film is doing the same. Who created it and how, and what impact did it have on musicals – and in films - afterwards? NB: we have a separate singing course which may be of interest: Come and sing: West Side Story [external website].
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Full fee £29.00 Senior fee £23.00 Concession £18.00

This course has now finished

Course Code: MD038C

Finished Tue, day, 02 Aug - 02 Aug '22

Duration: 1 session

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What is the course about?

As innovative stage musicals go, this one was remarkable for many features, not least in its creative team of composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, writer Arthur Laurents and choreographer Jerome Robbins, who turned the story of Shakespeare’s play about young love and ultimate tragedy into a believable up-to-date New York tale, with rival immigrant gangs instead of the old-established Veronese families of the original. After a long writing period and difficult rehearsals, this ‘depressing’ show finally found backers and opened to positive reviews. We will examine the creation of the work and its source material, both from Shakespearean and contemporary New York life, and the success this iconic musical has had ever since, including a look at both film versions.

What will we cover?

- a brief outline of the Shakespeare play
- a brief overview of popular stage musicals in the 1950s
- a look at the creative team and their backgrounds
- a look at the structure, and some individual numbers in detail
- some thoughts about the subsequent importance of this show in popular culture and its life after the first night.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- appreciate some of the changes between the Shakespeare play and the musical
- understand the creative process that produced it
- consider its place in the social context of its time
- analyse some songs, dances and drama for the different character groups
- appreciate and enjoy the mixture of music, lyrics and dance.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is a beginners’ course. No prior knowledge of music, lyrics or dance is assumed or expected.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught using a range of techniques including short presentations, slide shows and discussions, practical demonstrations on the piano and guided listening and watching. The course will use a variety of materials including YouTube clips. Links to these are given on a handout so that further exploration may take place if you wish. There will be lots of clips from stage and film to watch in class, and also afterwards at home if students have access to the internet.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No. However, you may wish to buy some of the music, books or DVDs recommended in class.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

To find out more about music history classes please click: Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

Pauline Greene

Pauline Greene studied composition at Nottingham University and then composed, performed and was Musical Director with various theatre companies. She taught flute and composition, performing her music across the UK at various venues, including the Southbank Centre and the Edinburgh Festival, with her group The Concert Party, which she managed and directed. She has taught at the Universities of Middlesex and Hertfordshire, and ran the Music Access course at Morley College. She has taught at Birkbeck since 1984, moving from Music to Arts Management, and also lectures at Goldsmiths. She has given talks at the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall and Glyndebourne. At City Lit Pauline teaches a wide range of music history courses, with specialisms in opera, music for dance, theatre and film, musical analysis, and music since 1900. She is still involved in the organisation of small-scale charity concerts and one-off musical events, and she sings and plays with several small groups.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.