CPA’s spring production of “West Side Story”

Kaylee Lewis, Staff writer, Social Media

McDowell’s Center for Performing Arts announced last week that this year’s spring musical will be “West Side Story,” an exhilarating story about two teens from rival gangs who fall in love. Inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” the story follows the rivalry between two street gangs, the Jets, a white gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang, who rule the streets of the upper west side of New York City in the mid 1950s. Tony, best friend to the leader of the Jets and Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks, meet and instantly fall in love, but the street rivalry forbids them to be together. “There aren’t that many musicals that have the drama of “West Side Story,” we’ve done a lot of comedies but it’s hard to find musicals with that drama on the high school level,” said Brent Johnson, the director. 

 The original choice for McDowell’s spring musical was “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a tale about a young girl from Kansas who comes to New York in search of a husband, but the selection was changed due to some concerns about how some characters could be perceived in the current climate. 

This year as well, Mr. Emmanuele will be putting on a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.” This classic tragedy about forbidden teenage love inspired the writing of “West Side Story,” a modern, musical version of the play. The production will run in the months prior to the opening of “West Side Story,” 

“It made sense to do the play it was based on and then the musical adaptation,” Johnson said. 

The current auditions are set for Feb. 18 and 19, though the date could change in the future. “The music is the hardest music we’ve ever done here, that challenge is very exciting,” Johnson said. “We have a strong cast of dancers and actors to pull this off, we’re going to see what happens.”