Students, teachers, and volunteers at La Cañada High School are in full rehearsal mode for this year’s All-School Musical, “West Side Story.” The show will open at 7:30 p.m. on May 31 and will run through June 3, with five performances in all. The story line, fashioned after Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” is still a timely one.
In a description of the 1961 film of “West Side Story,” the West Side is referred to as “the slums of New York City,” where disillusioned white youth — children of immigrants themselves in their late teens or early 20s, turn their focus to day-to-day protection of their “turf,” unable to see a meaningful future. They call themselves the coolest name they can think of: the Jets.
Their rivals, the Sharks, are seen as competition for control of the neighborhood, and because they sound and look different, are easy scapegoats for any and all troubles suffered by the Jets. They are Puerto Rican immigrants, trying to fit into the culture of New York.
Senior Whitney Koblin, who plays Consuela, said, “It is fun to see a lot of people from both choir and drama coming together to put on an amazing show.”
Tommy Woods, who as a seventh grader played Winthrop in the high school’s “The Music Man.” is a freshman this year. He said he has met a lot of new friends by being in this show, and “will audition for the musical every year, it’s been so much fun.”
Kerry Rupe, choreographer for the past five musicals, finds this show’s choreography “infinitely more challenging. I have tried to stay true to the vision of Jerome Robbins, West Side Story’s original choreographer.
Lead characters Tony and Maria will be played by Ben Goldsmith and Lauren Deutsch respectively. When Tony and Maria meet at a dance at the local gym, sparks fly between them — but Maria’s brother objects. This incident adds fuel to a developing need for a rumble between the gangs. The Jets, the white street gang Tony seems to be leaving behind, include Tony’s oldest friend, Riff, played by Jay Bicknell, and other hoodlums played by Kevin Austin, Andy Chow, Austin Facer, AJ Rawls, Ty Fleming, Joe Harris, Eric Larin, Ryan Michael and Zach Wetzel.
The Sharks are led by Preston Walker as Bernardo, Alex Sakai as Chino, with AJ Blumenfeld, Russ Burton, Christian Frandsen, John Jackson, Graehme Morphy and Charlie Wulke.
The shows are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 through Friday, June 2, and there will be shows at 3 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. Tickets are available from Teresa Deutsch at 952-5583. Order forms are available around town as well as in the school office.