STORY BY AUSTEN LOFTUS – PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMILY LOFTUS
To say that this year’s musical is a big production would be an understatement.
The cast for West Side Story, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, includes 40 cast members – not including stage hands and tech crew.
With a cast that size, one could be forgiven in thinking that new actors might find themselves in marginalized roles. But, they would be wrong. With opening night quickly approaching, the Excalibur profiled several of the cast’s newest members, some of whom had no prior theater training, about making the mark on the Little Theater stage.
West Side Story is the story of two lovers from rival gangs – a white New York gang named the Jets and a Puerto Rican gang named the Sharks – who try to overcome the racism that divides their families.
Freshman Aidan Fitch was cast for the part of Action, the Jets’ second-in-command. Action is a short tempered and feisty gang member.
Fitch said the character is a great contrast to himself.
“It’s actually really exciting,” he said. “When I went in for my audition, I was under the impression that I would be cast as ensemble. I really wanted to be a lead role.”
Fitch said he did not expect to get cast as Action at all.
Junior Melanie Guillen was cast as Rosalia, a ditzy Shark girl whose heart still remains with her home island, Puerto Rico.
Guillen decided to audition because she knew the reputation of McQueen’s musicals and she wanted to participate in one.
“It’s gonna be great” Guillen said
Melissa Luna plays Estella, an ensemble Shark girl.
In theater, ensemble members don’t have any speaking parts. Rather, their role is to create setting and enhance the mood of the play through dancing – in the case of West Side Story.
Luna auditioned because of her choir teacher Maribeth Burt. She was persuaded because she is in the Musical Theater choir class
Though Luna doesn’t have any lines, she is excited.
“I have no lines, but it’s okay” Luna said.
Freshman Carson Petersen plays Baby John in the musical, a young member of the Jets who provides comic relief throughout the show.
“I honestly didn’t want to do it at first because I had a lot on my schedule,” Petersen said. “Who knew I’d actually get one of the main parts.”
Petersen said he enjoys the experience and the people he has met in the show so far.
West Side Story runs Wednesday through Friday this week. Each show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at showtix4u.com.