By: Jen Russon
Ramblewood Middle School Drama presents the Tony Award winning play, “West Side Story” November 16 and 17.
The musical, adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1961, is directed by Meagan Nagy, the dramatic arts teacher at Ramblewood Middle, who has directed several fall musicals at the Coral Springs school.
This year, the famous Romeo and Juliet inspired story graces the stage, not with battles fought between the Capulets and Montagues, but between the Sharks and the Jets. The story is set in New York’s Upper West Side in the mid-1950s, and focuses on social tensions between white and Puerto Rican gang members.
Like the Shakespearian play, the star-crossed lovers in West Side Story also meet a heart-wrenching end.
The love story unfolds when Tony, a former member of the Jets, and best friend of its leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria – famously portrayed by Natalie Wood in the movie adaptation. The Jets are the white gang; the Sharks from Puerto Rico.
Maria’s brother, Bernardo is the leader of the Sharks. Between the two groups, many dance numbers and great songs transpire. Broadway heavyweights, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim produced songs from West Side Story that include “Something’s Coming”, “Maria”, “Jet Song”, “I Feel Pretty” and “Cool”, just to name a few.
The original 1957 Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 1957, so cast and crew at Ramblewood Middle are looking forward to performing the award-winning show.
Nagy was asked why she would direct West Side Story with 11 and 12-year-olds, when its themes are so advanced. She believes the show is full of teachable moments, especially during these times.
“I wanted my students to make those current event connections, and realize how crucial their portrayal of the characters are. If they treat this timeless, delicate tale with professionalism and care, no one is going to care that they are twelve,” said Nagy.
West Side Story will be performed at the J.P. Taravella High School Auditorium on November 16, 2018 at 7 p.m. and on November 17, at 3 p.m. Tickets, $10 for adults and 5 for students, are available for purchase online or at the door. The auditorium is located at 10600 Riverside Drive in Coral Springs.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.