McQueen theater begins rehearsals on Broadway classic West Side Story

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Cast members rehearse one of the dances in West Side Story, McQueen theater’s take on the classic Broadway musical. PHOTO BY AUSTEN LOFTUS

STORY AND PHOTOS BY AUSTEN LOFTUS

Auditions for West Side Story, this year’s school musical, wrapped up Nov. 16-17 and rehearsals are now underway.

The cast list was put up on Monday, Nov. 20. The show premieres in February.

That might seem like quite some time from now, but the drama department already has its hands full.

Sophomore Madilyn Meyers, who was cast as the lead, Maria, said “I am just anxious to see how it all turns out with the short time that we have. Two months is a really small period of time [to prepare].”

With Steel Magnolias, the school’s last play, drama director Susanne Cann said they had 10 weeks to prepare. With West Side Story, they only have eight.

West Side Story is a musical loosely based on Romeo and Juliet. The story is set in the 1950s and features main characters, Maria and Tony, as lovers in opposing gangs. Tony belongs to the Jets, and Maria belongs to the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang.

The musical’s cast this year includes actors both new and veterans to acting. Not only does the drama department have less time to prepare this year, but musicals are more complex than a play because it also includes singing and dancing.

Junior Andrew Lish, who was cast as the male lead, Tony, said he’s ready for the challenge.

“I’m new to acting, dancing, and I have very little experience singing,” he said. “I just hope I don’t mess it up.”

Senior Alexander Gousev was cast as the leader of the Jets, Riff. Now that he has been cast in the musical, he said the next step is to get into character.

“I love my character because he is a tough guy and naturally a leader,” he said. “I believe I have some of those attributes.”

Because the cast has no time to lose, they have already started rehearsing every day after school, as well as some weekends. Their first rehearsal was the day after the cast list went up.

“We’ve only had a few rehearsals, so far, but the energy that everyone brings is amazing,” ensemble member Olivia Ngo said. “I think we’re all really dedicated to the show.”

Though the cast has only been together for a short period of time they are already bonding.

“Everyone seems like people I’m going to really enjoy working with,” Lish said. “They are all really friendly and nice.”

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