West Side Story Will Return to New York City through The Harbor Lights Theater Company
Staten Island is often the forgotten borough of New York City. Just 30 minutes across the harbor from Lower Manhattan, the borough is no stranger to the arts of theatre housing several legit theatre companies and the iconic St. George Theater. However, one company on Staten Island is doing something that no other is. The Harbor Lights Theater Company, founded in 2010, is bringing Broadway talent to the borough as the company stages theatrical productions for the community to experience. This fall, they plan to close out their fifth season with one of the most famous Broadway musicals of all-time. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you an exciting first look at The Harbor Lights Theater Company’s upcoming production of West Side Story!
West Side Story is a musical which features a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical was conceived by Jerome Robbins. The musical tells the story of an Upper West Side neighborhood in the mid-1950’s and its changing character. A rivalry has formed between a caucasian gang, the Jets, and a group of Puerto Ricans, the Sharks. Things become even more complicated when Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks leader, Bernardo. The musical explores the social issues of American youth during a time when New York City found itself culturally divided. West Side Story includes some of the most iconic musical theatre songs of all-time including “Maria”, “America”, “Somewhere”, “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty”.
The Harbor Lights Theater Company will officially open West Side Story on November 7th, 2014 in the Music Hall at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Gardens. The show runs through November 23rd. Performances will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 PM with a 2 PM matinée on Sundays.
Leading the cast of West Side Story is John Grieco as Tony and Evy Ortiz (West Side Story National Tour) as Maria (Both are pictured below). Other leads include Aléna Watters (Sister Act) as Anita, Michael Graceffa (Catch Me If You Can National Tour) as Bernardo, Tim Roller (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang National Tour) as Riff and Dean de Luna (West Side Story Broadway Revival) as Chino.
The rest of the cast includes Victoria Casillo as Minnie and Estella, Natalie Diaz as Teresita, Antwaun Holley as Anxious, Melissa Hunt as Velma, Anthony Johnson as Action, Jesse Kramer as Arab, Justin Laguna as Indio, John Paul LaPorte as Luis, Jimmy Larkin as Baby John, Jessie Lawyer as Graziella, Gary J. Moore as Krupke, DJ Petrosino as Pepe, Emily Jeanne Phillips as Consuelo, Nicole Sartor as Rosalia, Kevin Shotwell as Big Deal, Joe Simonelli as Schrank, Thomas Sutter as Diesel, Mickey Tennenbaum as Doc, Shannon Walter as Clarice, Michelle West as Francisca and Sarah Zielinski as Anybodys.
Award-winning director Stephen Nachamie leads the creative team as director with Felicity Stiverson as choreographer. Brian Whitted will serve as musical director and conductor. The rest of the creative team includes Tabitha Pease as scenic designer, Jake Fine as lighting designer, Kurt Alger as costume designer, Duane McKee as sound designer and Valerie Caniglia as props master. Brendan J. O’Brien is production stage manager with Chris Luner is assistant stage manager. Michael Mastromarino is technical director.
The Harbor Lights Theater Company is the first professional Equity theatre company in Staten Island’s history. The company, which was founded in 2010, is dedicated to “illuminating the human experience” through the highest quality, professional theatrical productions and educational outreach on the borough of Staten Island in New York City. The company has found its home at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Gardens and West Side Story will mark its 16th production. Over the past five seasons, Harbor Lights has presented 85 Broadway professionals which include Tony, Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, drama Desk and Obie Award winning and nominated artists.
When speaking with Executive Artistic Director Tamera Jenkins about why Harbor Lights was interested in bringing West Side Story to Staten Island, she said:
“The Harbor Lights Theater Company’s 2014-2015 season will focus on tolerance and racial relations, which continue to be important issues in our borough. Issues explored include racism, homophobia and sexism.” Jenkins went on to say “West Side Story happens to be one of the best musicals ever written. We try to pick material that inspires us and will inspire our audiences here on Staten Island in a profound way.”
She also spoke specifically of plans Harbor Lights has for West Side Story saying;
“We have made it part of our mission to faithfully recreate original choreography wherever possible. We did so with (Jerome) Robbins before with our production of The King And I in 2012. We are very lucky to have Stephen Nachamie helming this production and Felicity Stiverson re-creating the Robbins iconic West Side choreography.”