Topic(s): Theatre History & Dramaturgy, Musical Theatre
Audience: High School, College/Higher Education
Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Suggested Time Frame:
Based on source material, students examine the appropriate musical adaptation: West Side Story or My Fair Lady. They will look at how the show developed from an historical as well as artistic perspective, and identify important similarities and differences in the plots.
Students need their StageAgent log in. They should have read Romeo and Juliet or Pygmalion in preparation for learning about the corresponding musical. Use the comparison handout in Resources for students to take notes.
This lesson is designed for distance learning.
Have students read the relevant show guide for their Golden Age musical adaptation: My Fair Lady or West Side Story.
Students are familiar with the source material; now they will explore the adaptations. Use the Comparative Critique handout for students to take notes on the shows. This handout asks students to consider both the dramatic and structural elements of the shows, as well as develop their own opinions on the intentions behind creating musical adaptations.
Students should read and watch as much of the musical adaptation as is available. Film versions of both My Fair Lady and West Side Story are available to watch through YouTube, either as a full movie or in fragments.
My Fair Lady
This video from the PBS Series Broadway: The American Musical chronicles the adaptation of Pygmalion into My Fair Lady.
The full 1964 film of My Fair Lady is also on YouTube (at least in fragments).
The show was revived in 2017-18 and nominated for ten Tony Awards. See this interview about the revival.
West Side Story
This video is a look at how West Side Story was made. (This documentary is almost an hour, and looks at both the original production as well as recent versions.) This video is a quick overview of the 2020 Broadway revival and the changes from the original production. The StageAgent guide for West Side Story also has professional production photos from this revival.
Have students take the relevant show quizzes. They should also have thorough comparison/contrast notes on the shows.
Theatre Eras & Movements:
Handout: Comparative Critique
Think you know West Side Story? Take this advanced quiz and find out!
Check out this quiz to see if you know the basics of this classic musical!