2018 is the centennial of renowned composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and performing arts groups around the country are celebrating his life with performances of his music. One such case in Houston is a production of one of his best-known works, West Side Story, with libretto by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins.
Conductor Timothy Myers said of Bernstein’s music, "There's undeniably a jazz element to the music... I also love that there's no fear for him of any kind of harmony. He is looking for the best way to tell the story, and the best way to kind of make it come together theatrically that he can find."
And with regards to Sondheim’s lyrical writing, “You see Sondheim's gift for lyricism and how he's very very specific about the words that he chooses and alliterations he might use..."
And on the production itself, currently running at the George R. Brown Convention Center’s Resilience Theater, “The set for West Side Story works beautifully in that space. It looks like it was built to be there... it fits the environment, and I know that people will have a consuming theatrical experience when they come to see this production."
Hear my conversation with Myers above where we talk about the music, the lyrics, the choreography, and the question of what exactly to call this piece… is it a musical? Is it opera? Does it matter?
West Side Story runs at Houston Grand Opera through May 6th. You can find information and tickets on the HGO website.