Something's Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination by Seattle Times theatre critic Misha Berson.
Something's Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination takes a critical, comprehensive look at one of the most inventive, influential, and internationally beloved Broadway musicals of all time - from its inception by a brilliant quartet of creators (Robbins, Bernstein, Sondheim, and Laurents) to its smashing success on film, to its ongoing popularity on stages around the world and its potent impact on the Great American Musical. Featuring intriguing chapters on West Side Story in relation to Romeo and Juliet; as a recording phenomenon; as a film rated the second-best movie musical of all time by the American Film Institute; as part of a wave of juvenile delinquency dramas; as the first great choreographer-auteur musical; and as the granddaddy of "youth musicals" such as Hair and Rent, Something's Coming, Something Good is a revealing guide for those who have seen the show; for those who wish to study it for pleasure or inspiration; and for actors, designers, and directors planning on producing it.
I've read it and it's a great book and a fun read
West Side Story: Cultural Perspectives on an American Musical by Associate Professor and Head of the Music Department at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada Elizabeth Wells.
West Side Story is such an iconic musical, it’s difficult to believe that, as Wells points out in her illuminating study, it could have been an unmitigated disaster. As originally conceived by choreographer Jerome Robbins, with a script by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it was meant to be an exploration of anti-Semitism, a modern-day adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with warring Catholic and Jewish street gangs. Although the Jewish plot was dropped in favor of Puerto Rican gang members, it was still the creation of four “privileged” Jewish American men who, as Sondheim notes, “had never even met a Puerto Rican.” What’s more, it featured no stars. Consequently, very few people thought the show had a chance on Broadway, and therefore it failed to attract investors. Both scholarly and entertaining, Wells explains in great and fascinating detail how West Side Story became one of the most successful musicals of the twentieth century and beyond and, more important, why it made an indelible mark on American culture. One of the great ironies of the story, she observes, is that the score was thought to be “unsingable” by Columbia Record executives. A must for serious fans of Broadway musicals.
Not as much fun to read as the first title but if you have a serious interest in music and especially the music of Leonard Bernstein, then you'll enjoy reading this
West Side Story: Music on Film Series by editor of Screen World Barry Monush.
On the brink of celebrating its 50th anniversary, West Side Story remains one of the classic motion pictures of the musical genre. A joint collaboration between directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, it won 10 Academy Awards and produced the longest-charting soundtrack album of all time. This book explores not only the stage origins of the piece, but the incredible impact of the movie version and how it became a touchstone for all subsequent generations interested in dance on film and in great filmmaking in general.
A tiny little book but another fun read