WEST SIDE STORY Brilliant cast promises added flavor to famed musical

Get ready to experience two weeks of choreographed gangland love as QuantUM Entertainment, the theatrical arm of Hurricane Productions, brings the 1957 musical West Side Story (WSS) to UM’s Hillel Theatre. This play marked the first- and arguably most famous, collaboration between Leonard Bernstein (music) and then Broadway newcomer Stephen Sondhiem (lyrics).

WSS is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet cast against the warfare of two rival street gangs, the Jets (Polish-American) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican) in 1950s NYC. Tony (David Rosa), a former leader of the Jets, falls in love with Maria (Rose Sirna), who is the sister of Bernardo (Julius Rubio) the leader of the Sharks, while at a school dance. This leads to increased rivalry between the gangs and several memorable songs by Stephen Sondheim like “America,” and “Tonight.”

“I think the show was written by geniuses,” said director Nicole Washinsky. “And I try to be as true to how it was written as possible so as not to disappoint fans of the show.”

The writing and singing weren’t the only concerns during production however. Making enough room for both a large cast and an expansive set was only one of many objectives.

“Our goal in this production was to step up costumes, lighting and set from previous productions,” said producer Zach Lezberg.

These goals are accomplished entirely by UM students. The actors, the director and the crew are all nonprofessionals working to gain experience. This gives their shows a fresh and different perspective, something the audience appreciates.

WSS was chosen through a random survey conducted asking UM students which plays they’d like to see performed on campus. Other nominees included Footloose, Hair, and Little Shop of Horrors, all of which are still in consideration for next semester.

West Side Story is being performed at the Hillel Theatre, 1100 Stanford Drive on the UM campus. Tickets for UM students are $10, $15 for non-UM students, and $20 for general public. Shows are April 15-24 at 8 p.m. and April 18 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are no shows on Fridays, but shows on and Sundays and Mondays are only $8 for UM students. For additional information or to give input in shows for next semester visit www.gotoquantum.com.

Jonathan Twiggar can be contacted at J.twiggar@umiami.edu.