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Elliot Norton Reviews; West Side Waltz


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Elliot Norton Reviews
West Side Waltz
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews director Noel Willman and producer Robert Whitehead about their production of West Side Waltz, written by Ernest Thompson and starring Katharine Hepburn at the Shubert Theater in Boston. In the play, Hepburn plays a 75-year-old pianist, in New York West Side, who keeps to herself and takes in a young violinist as a companion. They talk about the world premiere of the play at the Music Center of LA and then a three-week tour along the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Seattle. Willman and Whitehead talk about the fact that Hepburn loves to tour and is very active, making time to explore museums, gardens, and parks in the cities she visits. Willman says that Hepburn has always toured her shows because she feels that her fans deserve it, although, as Norton notes, she does not need to do it for the money. Whitehouse talks about how generous she is and how she asks to be paid the minimum wage until the play makes a profit and the producer can pay her more. The main thing she desires is that people are watching and enjoying the play. She asks Willman to watch her throughout the run and critique her so she makes sure she is doing well. She memorizes her lines three months before the first rehearsal and comes with ideas about her role. Willman talks about negotiating the role with her and coming to an accommodation between their sometimes-different concepts of the role. They talk about how her celebrity has changed as she has aged and why people admire her so much. They talk about her courage, beauty, and the fact that she wore pants when other women were not. They compare her courage to the courage of the character she plays in the show. They talk her ability to play comedy well and Willman notes that she loves playing comedy the most.

Director: Joanna Lu. Taped 4/13/1982.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; West Side Waltz,” 04/13/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed April 21, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_58117F608B9C4811B486FEACFA92F54E.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; West Side Waltz.” 04/13/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. April 21, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_58117F608B9C4811B486FEACFA92F54E>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; West Side Waltz. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_58117F608B9C4811B486FEACFA92F54E
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