West Side Story

Thu, 08/16/2007 - 3:15pm
By: The Citizen

Sharks and Jets take over the Fox

West Side Story

Theater of the Stars will present a special 50th anniversary production of “West Side Story,” at the fabulous Fox Theatre from Aug. 21-26.

The timeless tragedy within “West Side Story” is as relevant in today’s society as it was when it was written. In 1949 director-choreographer Jerome Robbins started working on the idea for “West Side Story.” Originally he thought maybe Juliet would be Jewish and Romeo would be Catholic, and the feud of the Shakespeare-inspired tale would center on Easter versus Passover. He discussed the idea with Leonard Bernstein, but due to extremely busy schedules, they did not get started on the project until 1955. By that time, they changed the conflict to take place between rival gangs. One gang would be native New Yorkers (The Jets), and the other gang would be Puerto Rican (The Sharks), and the backdrop would be the slums of New York City’s West Side. The original production opened on Broadway in the fall of 1957.

The poignant tale recounts the courtship and doomed love story between Tony (one of The Jets) and Maria (the sister of one of The Sharks). The musical is filled with electrifying dance numbers based on Robbins’ original ground-breaking choreography. The score, written by Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, features some of the most exuberant and romantic songs ever written, including “Somewhere (There’s A Place For Us),” “Maria,’” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty” and “America.”

Starring in this production of “West Side Story” as Maria is Sarah Darling. She portrayed Belle in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” in Montreal, Las Vegas and Baltimore and played Mary Jane in the national tour of Deaf West’s “Big River.” Regionally she’s appeared in “Footloose,” “Hot Mikado,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “The Wizard of Oz.” On television she’s been seen in a recurring role in both “All My Children” and “One Life To Live.”

Nathan Scherich is performing in the role of Tony. His credits include starring roles in “Cinderella,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Singin’ In The Rain” at North Shore Music Theatre in Boston and “Mack and Mabel” at the historic Goodspeed Opera House.

Michael Balderrama, who portrays Bernardo, recently performed in the new off-Broadway hit “In The Heights” which is set to move to Broadway in the fall. On Broadway he’s been featured in “Hot Feet,” “Movin’ Out,” “Urban Cowboy” and “Saturday Night Fever.” He is a principal with Ballet Hispanico NY.

Starring as Anita is Natascia Diaz. On Broadway, she’s performed in “Man of La Mancha,” “The Capeman” and “Seussical.” She was in “Jacques Brel” off Broadway and is featured on the cast album.

Leo Ash Evens portrays Riff, which is his favorite role. Nationally he has toured in “Disney’s On The Record,” “42nd Street” and “Casper The Musical” with Chita Rivera. Starring as Chino is Christopher Sergeeff who was last seen at the Kennedy Center in “Carnival!” Regionally he’s performed in “Hello Dolly” starring Sally Struthers, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “Footloose” and “Forever Plaid.”

Alan Johnson serves as both director and choreographer for this production. During the past 30 years, Johnson has recreated numerous acclaimed productions of Robbins’ original “West Side Story” all over the world. He is also well-known for his many collaborations with Mel Brooks, beginning with the famous (or infamous) “Springtime for Hitler” number in “The Producers.”

The creative team for this special production of “West Side Story” includes: Joshua Bergasse as associate director, Janice Aubrey as music director, Ken Billington as lighting designer and Peter Fitzgerald and Erich Bechtel as sound designers.

This new production of “West Side Story” will play at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Street, August 21-26. Performances are scheduled for Tuesday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. Purchases through Ticketmaster can be made in three ways: at Ticketmaster ticket centers, by calling 404-817-8700 or by ordering online at www.ticketmaster.com. For group ticket sales, call the Fox Theatre Group Sales Office at 404-881-2000. Ticket prices range from $20-64.

Theater of the Stars is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year as one of the nation’s premier theater companies. A civic non-profit cultural organization, Theater of the Stars is dedicated to presenting and producing the best in musical theater. To learn more about their history of excellence, visit them at www.theaterofthestars.com.

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