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West Side Story Opens at BC

- View the photo gallery for West Side Story

Performances are February 22, 23 and 27-March1 at 8pm in the McGaw Theatre.

West Side Story, a late 1950’s musical set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, focuses upon two rivaling teenage gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Amidst cultural differences a love forms between Tony, a member of the white gang and Maria, the sister of the leader of the Puerto Rican gang. Hearkening back to the plot line Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria fall in love even though they can never really be together.

West Side Story, written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is among the most well-known and beloved of American musicals, with musical numbers “Tonight,” “Somewhere,” and “America.” The play originally opened in New York in 1957 at the Winter Garden Theatre, and was enthusiastically received, running for over seven hundred sold out performances, toured nationally for a year, and then returned to New York for over two hundred additional performances. Since then, the musical has been performed around the globe and translated in multiple languages. A major motion picture was released in 1961, starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, and earned a total of ten Oscar awards, including Best Picture that year.

The production at Berea College is a collaboration between the Theatre Laboratory and the Department of Music and is being led by Director Rodney Clark, Musical Director Stephen Bolster, Choreographer Stephanie Woodie and Assistant Musical Director Ryan Shirar. The cast features the talents of over thirty students, including seniors Valton Jackson as Tony and Rebekah Phillippi as Maria. Scenery is designed by Shan Ayers; costumes by Mary Ann Shupe; and lighting by Dawn Alex.

Director Rodney Clark says of the collaboration, “West Side Story is among my favorite musicals, and I’m excited to be working with Steve, Stephanie, Ryan and the students on this. To pull off a musical of this magnitude, you need the assistance and talents of many artists and collaborators. We look forward to the campus and surrounding community experiencing this.”

Performances are February 22, 23 and 27-March1 at 8pm in the McGaw Theatre. Tickets range in price from $5 to $10 and can be reserved by calling the Berea College Theatre Box Office at (859) 985-3300 Monday through Friday, 1-5 pm. Admission for Berea College students is prepaid as part of their student activities fee, but reservations are required. As a service to our community, a sign interpreted performance will be Friday, February 29. Listening devices for the hearing impaired, enlarged programs for the sight impaired, and special parking and seating privileges for those needing physical assistance are also available. Advance reservations are strongly suggested as most performances will be sold out.

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