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Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins

by Amanda Vaill

This is the first full-scale biography of what Time Magazine called a 'made-in-the-USA genius' Jerome Robbins (1918-98) helped change American theatre forever with his choreography for Leonard Bernstein's musical On the Town (the one about the three sailors during the course of twenty-four hours in New York City). On Broadway, Robbins virtually invented the concept musical in which music, action and dancing are woven into a seamless whole. His life reflects the creative format of the post-war years, intersecting with the likes of Arthur Miller, Irving Berlin, W. H. Auden, Leonard Bernstein and George Balachine. His work includes The King and I, Pajama Game, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy and, most famously, West Side Story. Robbins was part of other important 20th century narratives: the grim drama of the McCarthy blacklist; the emergence of gay culture; the epic of immigrant assimilation. A guarded and secretive man, Robbins had virtually no magazine profiles and no biography in his lifetime, but in 1998 Amanda Vaill was given unprecedented and unique access to Robbins' letters, diaries and meticulously kept journals. This has resulted in a detailed, densely populated narrative with a strong and charismatic central figure - a book that makes readers feel that they are experiencing an extraordinary time for themselves.

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