Drama department performs West Side Story

Aimee Brown

A battle between the Puerto Rican Sharks and American Jets over territorial rights to the neighborhood sets the stage for this 1957 interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet.” Conflicts arise as matters of race, love, and loyalty are confronted among the mass of teenage hoodlums in BSM’s spring musical, “West Side Story.”

Zach Mahler and Amy Stockhaus, playing the leads Tony and Maria, describe the experience as tough, but rewarding. “It’s really a lot of work, a lot is riding on my performance, so it’s really exhilarating and I enjoy it, but it’s a lot of work. It’s a mix of good and bad but mostly good,” said Mahler.

Some, however, are more indifferent to being chosen for a lead. “I would be perfectly fine with an extra, but no, I’m a lead now, I’m important, so I can’t just say ‘uh i don’t feel like it anymore,’ I actually have to do it,” said freshman, Ned Meeker, who plays the character Action.

Combining the memorization of songs, dances, set changes, costume changes, and lines, along with becoming the character and putting on a good show can  be tricky to maintain. “It’s hard, especially with this character, you go through a lot of emotional ups and downs in the show, it’s hard to just snap into different emotions,” said Stockhaus.

A lot of time and energy have been spent on the play, and because this is such an intense production, to get a head start on the dances, director Linda Talcott-Lee put on dance workshops before try-outs. “All of those workshops were to train people how to warm themselves up and how to take care of their bodies, in addition to doing the material, so that they wouldn’t get injured, because this is a really hard show,” said Mrs. Talcott-Lee.

Having a strong focus on the dances, a lot of work went in months before auditions to prepare for this show to learn and interpret the original Broadway choreography by Jerome Robbins. “We did a ton of pre-production work, trying to decipher this [choreography] manual. I worked for Jerome Robbins when he was still alive and I’ve done many productions of “West Side Story” with the original choreography, so there was a lot that I knew and I could help to decipher,” said Mrs.Talcott-Lee.

Everyone has committed an immense amount of time and energy toward this production. Practices have typically been from 3 to 8 p.m., but the time contributed has definitely added to the more polished outcome. “I knew it was going to be a big challenge, but I felt like enough of the students knew me and knew that they would have to work very hard for me, but that they could trust me, that I wouldn’t steer them in the wrong direction,” said Mrs. Talcott-Lee.