West Side Story Hits the Stage

Our Senior School musical opens next week and after much hard work, the young actors, stage crew and faculty are all excited to show their version of the classic musical West Side Story. With a cast of over 60 students, an even larger stage crew and a full orchestra, the annual musical promises to be a high-calibre show. Our student performers will act, sing and dance to bring this romantic and violent tale to life. Head of Drama David Gauthier and Head of Music Donna Williams are directing the production, and choreographer Kim Breiland, who has worked with renowned performers such as Janet Jackson, designed the dance steps.

With students working behind the scenes, on the stage and in the orchestra pit, West Side Story is a major accomplishment of our student body and when the curtain goes up on Tuesday, the audience will certainly see a spectacular show. Theatre enthusiast and cast member Eric Protzer writes about the performance to come.

Contrary to common opinion, the largest consumer of life is not heart disease, cancer, or infectious diseases. If your doctor tells you so, do not worry but simply rest assured that he has a deficit of experience in this field. Symptoms of the real condition include fatigue, drastic changes in appearance and the feeling that you are somebody else. Indeed, the greatest consumer of life is theatre. Startlingly addictive, participating in a stage production is one of the most enjoyable and time-consuming things you can possibly do on this plane of existence.

A presence on stage is infinitely fortified by captivating dialogue. As such, the SMUS musical this year was an excellent choice: the famously enthralling West Side Story. Perhaps the biggest reason of this production’s success is its intricate story, containing more subplots than you have fingers. Every scene drives more and more conflict and excitement. This presents an exemplary opportunity for an actor: the thicker the plot, the more defined each character is, allowing the people who play them to fully develop their personas. It is a play like this which moves its own cast to tears.

Invaluable to this production is also the cast choice. Portraying Maria (with a flawless Puerto Rican accent) is head girl Emily Reid, known to make West Side Story’s musical director, Donna Williams, “wish [she was] a soprano.” She will be accompanied by Vaughn ‘Better-Than-Sting’ Stokes, playing her devotee, Tony. Separated by racial prejudice and family feuds, these desperate lovers campaign for peace and understanding in a world of grounded opposites. Other highlights include Rachael Baptiste’s heart-wrenching rendition of “A Boy Like That” and Andy Erasmus as a phenomenal singer and a convincing gang leader.

If you have ever seen your favourite band play live after listening to their albums for years, you will know the boom of vigor that comes with this. Quite comparable to this is the surge that comes when singing with a real pit orchestra instead of a recording. Less than a week from opening night, this has occurred for the cast of West Side Story and doubled their enthusiasm. The anticipation of performance is steadily climbing, and will reach its zenith in the McPherson Theatre. I welcome you to share in this energy on any of the evening performances from February 24-28th at 7:30 pm or the 1:30 pm Saturday matinee.

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