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SummerStage at Leonia Presents WEST SIDE STORY, 7/18-8/5

SummerStage at Leonia Presents WEST SIDE STORY, 7/18-8/5Leonia, NJ--This July and August, Bergen County audiences will be transported back 60 years to the graffiti-filled streets of NYC's Upper West Side, as SummerStage at Leonia presents one of the greatest musicals ever produced, WEST SIDE STORY, at the Civil War Drill Hall Theater in Leonia.

Co-Directors Ray Yucis of Paterson and Michael Wurl Larson of Leonia head a company of 27 pre-professional actors from NYC. Musical direction is by Carolyn Russo of Lincoln Park and Michael Holak of Parsippany. The original Jerome Robbins choreography is being recreated by the Broadway-credited choreographer Michael Jablonski. Hair design is by Emmy Award-winning Inga Thrasher of Leonia.

WEST SIDE STORY, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, features several popular songs including Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty, America, and I Have a Love.

The plot centers on the rivalry between two NYC street gangs in the 1950s: the Jets and the Sharks, and how two young lovers, Tony (Ricky Marchese of Queens, NY), of Polish descent, and Maria (Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera of White Plains, NY), of Puerto Rican descent, get caught in the crossfire of hatred between both gangs. It's based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The cast also features David Triptow as Riff, Jorge Echeverría as Bernardo, and Adriana Negron as Anita. Members of the Jets and Jet girls include JT Teeling, Kyle Kowalewski, Matt Fennelly, Chris Zika, Bobby Miles, Audrey Wells, Holly Wilder, Elizabeth Andrews, and Chloe Markewich. Members of the Sharks and Shark girls include Jorge Espitia, Andrés Gallardo Bustillo, Ariel Sanchez, Ezequiel Corbalán, Rose Garcia, Clarice Granado, Martina Loyato, Kellie Liberto, and Gianna-Leigh Bastar. Doc is played by James Lesko, Krupke by Michael Telposky, and Schrank played by James Lugo

WEST SIDE STORY premiered in 1957 on Broadway and was an immediate, critically-acclaimed hit, running for 732 performances. Wrote Walter Kerr of the NY Herald Tribune: "The radioactive fallout from 'West Side Story' must still be descending on Broadway this morning. Director, choreographer and idea-man Jerome Robbins has put together, and then blasted apart, the most savage, restless, electrifying dance patterns we've been exposed to in a dozen seasons ... the show rides with a catastrophic roar ... there's fresh excitement in the next debacle and the next." John Chapman of the NY Daily News penned: "This is a bold new kind of musical theatre - a juke-box Manhattan opera. It is, to me, extraordinarily exciting .... the manner of telling the story is a provocative and artful blend of music, dance, and plot--and the music and the dancing are superb. In [the score], there's the drive, the bounce, the restlessness, and the sweetness of our town."

The show plays for three weeks (Wednesdays through Sundays): July 18-22, 25-29, and August 1-5 at the air-conditioned, historic Civil War Drill Hall Theatre, 130 Grand Avenue in Leonia, NJ (a five-minute drive from the GW Bridge, or a short bus ride from NYC). Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are $30, with a $3 discount for seniors and students. Tickets can be ordered by calling 201-944-4300, or from the SummerStage website ( by clicking on the Box Office link. Tickets can also be purchased at Pacicco Jewelers on Broad Avenue and Soloist Music on Fort Lee Rd in Leonia.

SummerStage's mission is to produce a Broadway-quality family musical each summer, at Off-Off-Broadway prices.

WEST SIDE STORY follows a long tradition of outstanding productions by SummerStage, including Oklahoma! (2007), Carousel (2008), Annie Get Your Gun (2009), Bye Bye Birdie (2011), Annie (2012), South Pacific (2013), Les Miserables (2014), My Fair Lady (2016), and last summer's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Photo: SummerStage at Leonia

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