Riverside Theatre's WEST SIDE STORY to Run 2/17-3/8

By: Jan. 26, 2015
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Riverside's celebrated 2014-2015 Season continues with the most anticipated show of the season, West Side Story. Conceived by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins, West Side Story tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers from different worlds who fight to keep their passion alive. West Side Story performs on the Stark Stage from February 17 - March 8, 2015 and is sponsored by The O'Haire Fessler Group/Merrill Lynch Wealth Management along with Riverside Theatre's Patron Producers.

Based on one of the greatest love stories of all time - Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - West Side Story is powerful and poignant, with a score considered to be one of Broadway's finest. From first note to final breath, West Side Story soars with classics "Something's Coming," "Tonight," "America," "I Feel Pretty," and "Somewhere."

West Side Story was conceived by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins in 1947, ten years before its opening on Broadway. Originally called East Side Story, it was set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and portrayed the romance of a Jewish girl and Irish Catholic boy, surrounded by religious and ethnic prejudice. However, the three collaborators were busy with other plays and movies and never managed to produce their original concept.

In 1955, Stephen Sondheim joined the team as lyricist. At the time New York City was plagued with violent gang wars, and the team decided to change the conflict to a war between the Polish American Jets, and the Puerto Rican Sharks. The venue was moved to the west side of Manhattan in a neighborhood that was subsequently razed to build Lincoln Center. Hence the new title, West Side Story. The show marked a turning point in American musicals, due to its dark theme, extended dance sequences, sophisticated music, and focus on social problems. Casting was especially difficult since the actors had to be proficient at singing, dancing and acting, and needed to be young enough to pass as teenagers.

The show opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in the fall of 1957 and was an instant hit. Starring Larry Kert, Carol Lawrence, Mickey Calin, Chita Rivera, and Ken Leroy, the Broadway production ran for 732 performances and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning for Best Choreography and Best Scenic Design. It lost Best Musical to The Music Man.

The show was an even bigger hit in London playing from 1958 to 1961. The movie, released in 1961, starred Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Natalie Wood. It was an immediate blockbuster, winning ten of its eleven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

One of the most revived shows on Broadway, West Side Story had revival productions in 1960, 1964, 1980 and 2009.

Riverside Theatre's production of West Side Story is directed by DJ Salisbury and stars: Anthony Festa (Tony), Belinda Allyn (Maria), Penelope Armstead-Williams (Anita), Elizabeth Racanelli (Anybodys), Sean Ewing (Bernardo), Michael D. Jablonski (Riff), Kevin Santos (Chino), Daryll Heysham (Det. Schrank), Steve Brady (Doc), Thomas L. Webb (Officer Krupke), and David Schmittou (Gladhand).

The ensemble cast includes: THE JETS - Stephanie Bissonnette (Minnie) Andrew Eckert (Diesel), Tenealle Farragher (Clarisse), Anthony Johnson, (A-rab), Alida Michal (Graziella), Sarah Parnicky (Pauline), Andrew Purcell (Action), Scott Shedenhelm (Baby John), Summerisa Bell Stevens (Velma), and Morgan White (Snowboy). THE SHARKS - Kimber Benedict (Margarita), Krystina M. Burton (Francesca), Mike Baerga (Toro), Victoria Casillo (Teresita), Andre Cole (Luis), Dean Andre Deluna (Indio), Camden Gonzales (Rosalia), Jaquez Andre Sims (Pepe), and Gabriella Sorrentino (Consuelo).

The design and technical team includes: Alex Sanchez (Choreographer), Ken Clifton (Music Director), Cliff Simon (Scenic Design), Yael Lubetzky (Lighting Design), Holly Payne (Costume Design), Craig Beyrooti (Sound Design), with Amy M. Bertacini (Stage Manager) and Ingrid Olson (Asst. Stage Manager). Casting was done in New York City by Wojcik / Seay Casting.

West Side Story performs February 17 - March 8, 2015 on the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre. Tickets starting at $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at www.riversidetheatre.com. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Opening Night (the first Tuesday performance), Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; with matinees on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.


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