By Thomas Farr.
Every year, the Heritage Academy Theatre Department puts on their annual spring musical. In the past, they have performed such classics as The Music Man or Les Miserables. This year however, they will be putting on what is, in my opinion, the ultimate musical: Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.
This 1957 musical has become a classic both in theatre world and in the homes of families across the world, winning two Tony Awards during its initial run. The musical is an adaptation of the classic play Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, cast over the background of New York’s west side. It follows the love affair of Tony, a Polish American, and Maria, a Puerto Rican, as they struggle to find peace in a world surrounded with racially driven hate. Unfortunately, Tony shares a brother-like bond with Riff, the leader of a gang called the Jets, and Maria’s brother is Bernardo, the leader of the Jets’ rival gang, the Sharks. This beloved story has seen countless comebacks, such as Broadway revivals and, in 1961, a feature film adaptation.
Given its popularity and deep emotional roots, West Side Story was the obvious choice for our 2019 spring musical. Upon the musical’s announcement last May, I knew that I had to be apart of this wonderful production. So, like so many others at this wonderfully talented school, I set my sights towards auditions and got to work.
For anybody who has ever auditioned for something that they truly want to be a part of, they understand that it can be terrifying. They know that the possibility of being rejected from something they care about is constantly looming over their heads. In spite of this fear, we still audition, leaving our hearts out to the judges and hoping for the best. It doesn’t always work out for us but, for those who are accepted, a whole new world of opportunities are opened.
I have the honor and privilege of playing my favorite role in this fantastic show, Riff, the leader of the Jets. For months the cast, crew, and I have been working day after day to create the perfect show. To do justice to a show of this magnitude and importance was a grueling task, but a worthy one. I am confident that each member of this fantastic cast is ready to leave our hearts on the stage for a fantastic week of performances.