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McPherson College Mohler Lecture to Feature Songs, History of ‘West Side Story’

posted Mar 02, 2012 in CAMPUS EVENTS

The spring Mohler Lecture at McPherson College will give a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Leonard Bernstein’s landmark Broadway show “West Side Story”, complete with performance of selected songs from the popular show.

Dr. Paul Laird, professor of musicology at the University of Kansas, will be joined by KU music students Joe Carr, Ashley Benes and Stanton Nelson – who will perform the song selections including “Maria”, “I Feel Pretty” and “Tonight.” The lecture will start at 7 p.m. March 13 in Mingenback Theatre at McPherson College.

Dr. Laird said the half-hour lecture is intended to enlighten the process that Bernstein went through to create the final product of “West Side Story.”

“The collaborative, creative act of writing a piece of musical theater is often a mystery to members of the audience,” Dr. Laird said. “Our presentation will consider such matters for ‘West Side Story’, one of the most important shows in the history of the American musical theater.”

Dr. Laird has published two books and multiple articles on Bernstein and his works and taught continuing education courses on Broadway musicals at the University of Kansas. Topics of his lecture include how Manhattan was chosen as the setting, the use of dance in storytelling and details of creation of specific scenes and songs – including how they changed during the show’s development.

“The presentation will allow the audience a glimpse inside the artist’s workshop,” Dr. Laird said. “Illuminating the creative process and its non-linear, intuitive nature.”

The Mohler Lecture is named for Robert Mohler, former dean and biology professor at McPherson College. The lecture series is the oldest at the college.

The lecture is free and the public is invited and encouraged to attend.

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