"A Place for Us: Fifty Years of West Side Story" will air at 8 PM on WNYC 93.9 FM; check local listings. NPR has also created a series of web pages about the groundbreaking musical that are available by visiting www.npr.org.
Hosted by Scott Simon, "A Place for Us," press notes state, explores "the show from a variety of angles; members of the original creative team and cast discuss the show's birth, members of the movie cast discuss the show's translation from stage to screen and a variety of critics and artists talk about the impact of the show and its score on popular culture."
Those interviewed for the special include lyricist Stephen Sondheim, bookwriter Arthur Laurents, original cast members Carol Lawrence and Chita Rivera, producer Harold Prince, movie cast members Rita Moreno and Marni Nixon, New York Times columnist Frank Rich and jazz artist Bill Charlap. Composer Leonard Bernstein, director/choreographer Jerome Robbins and original cast member Larry Kert are heard in archival audio.
The documentary also includes music from the original West Side Story cast recording, the film soundtrack and classical, jazz and pop interpretations of the score.
"A Place for Us" was written and produced by Jeff Lunden. West Side Story features a score by Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre Sept. 26, 1957. It played 732 performances before closing June 27, 1959. Conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the original cast included Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria and Chita Rivera as Anita. The classic Bernstein-Sondheim score boasts such tunes as "Tonight," "America," "Maria," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere."
Subsequent revivals were presented at the Winter Garden Theatre (1960), City Center (1964) and the Minskoff Theatre (1980). The latter featured Josie de Guzman as Maria, Debbie Allen as Anita and Ken Marshall as Tony.