WEST SIDE STORY Opens At LPAC November 14!
West Side Story: Classic. Powerful. Groundbreaking. Heartbreaking. All words that have been used to describe one of Broadway's most memorable and iconic pieces of musical theatre. The Lauderhill Performing Arts Center in collaboration with Broadway Palm will present West Side Story as the first production in their brand-new Broadway at the LPAC series. The show will run from November 14th through December 1st.
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the "American" Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. The story of their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice became one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching musicals of all time, and the subject matter is as relevant today as it was when the show opened in 1957.
West Side Story was written by Arthur Laurents. The musical's score was composed by Leonard Bernstein, and the show was choreographed by Jerome Robbins, who won a Tony Award for his work. West Side Story also marked the Broadway debut of a then unknown lyricist/composer - Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim was contracted to write the lyrics for the show after composer Bernstein decided that he needed to concentrate solely on the music. (Sondheim originally declined the offer, but his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein, convinced him to do it, telling him he would benefit from the experience.)
The production's Artistic Producer, Brian Enzman, has cast Alexa Lopez and Jacob Tarconish as West Side Story's star-crossed lovers, Maria and Tony.
"West Side Story was the first piece of musical theater I had ever seen live, it was the first thing that sparked my passion for performing, and so it holds an extremely special place in my heart," seventeen-year old Lopez, a senior at the American Heritage School in Plantation, explains. "Looking back, I remember how moved I was by the rich music, the actors, and the relevant story they were telling. I saw myself on stage that night, and was able to, as a Cuban-American, deeply identify with Maria. I've carried this show with me since and am truly amazed at how contemporary it remains today. It is a story that I am honored to be able to tell.
"My journey with West Side has been a long one," she continues. "I auditioned for the role of Maria many times and at many levels. One of my most memorable experiences was this past year when I had the wonderful opportunity of making it to the final round of callbacks for the upcoming 2020 Broadway revival, auditioning for Ivo van Hove, the director. In any case, I'm so ecstatic to finally play Maria and be able to share her story."
Jacob Tarconish has given a lot of thought to the relevance of the play in today's world, and to his character: "The Sharks and Jets are in this world of divisiveness, racism and xenophobia, and then you have two people fall in love and realize "everything we've been told to believe is wrong. We're all just people whose differences aren't a reason to hate each other, they're what make us exciting and magical", and we see what happens when two people challenge those barriers and try to tear them down," he says. "I think in our country today, there's a lot of that same divisiveness and there's also a sense of drastically changing beliefs, which makes West Side Story such a powerful and wonderful piece of theatre to be a part of.
"I think a lot of people have a side of Tony in them," he continues. "He's got a job, he's at a point in his life where he's grown past what his friends are still doing, but he's kind of dissatisfied. He's got all this energy and ambition, but nothing to really use it on. Then, he meets Maria, and his world instantly changes. He realizes "I've found someone who understands me, who sees me, and I would do absolutely anything and everything to be with her," and suddenly he's alive again, he's using that drive again, and it makes him feel like he's superhuman. I think people can absolutely identify with that sense of longing and passion."
The rest of the West Side Story cast includes the Shark Girls - Katie Whittemore as Anita, Sandi Stock as Francisca, Emily Stys as Rosalia and Emilee Hassanzadeh as Margarita; The Jets Girls: Sarah Rose Knoche as Anybodys, Laura Titus as Graziella, Lauren Cagnetta as Minnie and Bailee Cudmore as Velman; The Sharks: Pasqualino Beltempo as Bernardo, Brandon Santos as Chino, Jermarcus Riggins as Pepe, Phillip Giandiletti as Luis and Richel Ruiz as Juan; The Jets: Rhett Warner as Riff, Robert Ayala as Action, Michael Friedman as A-Rab, Clint Maddox Thompson as Baby John, Mason Lewis as Diesel and Derik Lawson as Snowboy. Also in the cast are Peter Librach as Doc, Craig Smith as Lieutenant Schrank, and Justin Schneyer as Officer Krupke.
West Side Story will be directed by Dean Sobon, with musical direction by Eric Alsford, and the show's Choreographer is Ron Hutchins. Lighting Design is by Russell Thompson, Lighting Design is by Chris Young, and Costume Design is by John White.
West Side Story will run from November 14th- December 1st. Ticket prices range from $35 - $55 and are available online at https://lpacfl.com/or by calling 954-777-2055. Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 pm. There will not be a performance on Thursday, November 28th - Thanksgiving Day.
Subscriptions for the Broadway in Broward series are also on sale, and various subscription packages are available. Subscriptions can be purchased by calling the LPAC box office at 954-777-2055.