George Chakiris, who received an Academy Award for the role of Bernardo in the 1961 film "West Side Story," will grace The Stepping Stone Players' rehearsal stage Aug. 19.
Chakiris played the role of Riff (leader of the Jets) in the London stage production and later played the role of Bernardo (leader of the rival Sharks) in Robert Wise's film version of "West Side Story."
Chakiris made his acting debut singing in the chorus for the film "Song of Love" and has worked regularly on stage and screen since his debut at the age of 12.
When he heard of the Stepping Stone Players production, Chakiris enthusiastically contacted the producers to offer his presence during rehearsals and performances.
Since "West Side Story" is his favorite theatrical work, he that he had much to offer to the cast by drawing from his intimate experience of the material.
His presence at the Hoover High School auditorium will give the hard working cast and production team a lift, offering insight and inspiration.
Chakiris was impressed by the fact that The Stepping Stone Players built their "nonprofit empire" on their love for theater and their desire to build a strong sense of community through theater.
Now in their fifth season, the Players have certainly done just that, attracting both deaf and hearing audiences throughout the Los Angeles area.
"West Side Story" will run Sept. 10 through 26.
The last two Sunday matinees will be ASL- (American Sign Language) interpreted performances led by ASL veterans Tadd Cohen and Jonica Patella and supported by interns from the California State University Northridge's and Pierce College's Deaf Studies Programs.
For tickets or for morr information, call 246-8822 or visit online at www.steppingstoneplayers.com.