by TV News Desk
Audiences will no doubt recognize the quintessential American musical West Side Story when its latest revival opens next week. Its unforgettable music, lyrics and story are the same. But this radical reimagining injects a modern twist to the classic story: a video element meant to intensify and augment the action. Bill Whitaker and 60 MINUTES cameras were given unprecedented access to the production, filming its rehearsals and interviewing its creators. The story about the new West Side Story will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 16 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Video clip from the interview
60 MINUTES cameras were there on the first day of rehearsal as the show's producer, Scott Rudin, addressed the cast, telling them, "This isn't going to be a West Side Story like anybody has ever seen." Part of what makes it new is the integration of video during the performance. When the audience walks into the theater, the first thing they will see is a black video wall that's 70 feet wide and 40 feet tall.
"That's it...that's West Side Story," says Scott Rudin, a successful Broadway veteran producer. "It's a BLACK BOX fully exposed, guts and all. It's not West Side Story of 1957. It's just not that."
There are 25 cameras that capture the action on stage. Some cast members shoot video using handheld cameras or cell phones. Some of the video is pre-shot, some of it live. All of it projected onto the large video wall.
"I think we are managing our way into it. There are places where I think [the video] still does slightly overwhelm...dwarf the actors," says Rudin. "And some places where it's incredibly exciting that it's there," he tells Whitaker. "But it's been a fascinating toolkit to play with."
The show's Belgian director, Ivo van Hove, has had to deal with challenging rehearsals for this production that has many moving parts. But it's all his vision.
"The challenges were high," he says of the tech rehearsals "And of course when you start ...you know it will be a journey."