Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Bud Coleman

Second Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Third Advisor

Pamyla Stiehl


This purpose of this thesis is twofold: to focus on illustrating the sociopolitical similarities of Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim and to discern any possible influence those similarities had on the collaboration and the creation of the original production of WEST SIDE STORY. The secondary focus is to expose the dissimilar accounts within the available literature regarding the collaborative period and to attempt to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how the collaboration unfolded. The study examines the similar backgrounds of the four main creators of WEST SIDE STORY, including their upbringing, their relationship with their faith, their sexuality and their political ideology in order to determine if these similar identities impacted the collaboration and to demonstrate that the creative period and collaborative relationships may not have been as idyllic as many biographers and historians depict.