The John Jay College of Criminal Justice will team up with several universities — including Ohio Wesleyan University, Albion College, Wooster College, College of Santa Fe and Hope College — to present an all-student-created production of West Side Story. The students involved will receive academic credit from John Jay College or the New York Arts Program.
Students and alumni will collaborate on every level of the production, which will be presented at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan where West Side Story takes place.
The cast includes Adam Sansiveri (Tony), Abby Lee (Maria), Dan Kwiatkowski (Riff), Buenaventura Rodriguez (Bernardo), Heather Refvem (Anita), Danielle Lorick (Anybodys) and Juan Carlos Rodriguez (Chino).
The West Side Story ensemble comprises Chelsea Kilburn, Adrienne Scott, Ashley Bernal, Nova Pinero, Jessica Gonzalez, Antonia Marrero Ben Maddocks, Cedar Braasch, Eric Carpenter, James Beaudry, Keith Morales, Lenny Collado, Nick Carillo, Wilfree Vasquez, Giancarlo Castillo, Rosie Pignataro, Michelle Billingy, Sabrina Garcia, Brigida Valenzuela and Maria Garcia.
Dana Tarantino will direct the student-led production. The West Side Story creative team features Nicholas G.M. Ross (musical director and conductor), James Beaudry (choreography), Art Rotch (set design), Lucrecia Briceno (lighting design), Rosalie Contino (costumes design) and Susan Smale (sound design). As students enter their final weeks of rehearsals, Leonard Bernstein's daughter, Jamie Bernstein, will attend a rehearsal to discuss her late father's work and the musical's legacy.
A modern retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set on the West Side of Manhattan, West Side Story tells the tale of two doomed young lovers, Tony and Maria, who are inextricably linked to rival gangs, The Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants) and The Jets (native New Yorkers).
Arthur Laurents penned the book, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed the original production's electrifying dance numbers, which are re-created worldwide.
The Bernstein-Sondheim score features the American classics "Somewhere," "Tonight," "One Hand, One Heart," "Maria," "I Feel Pretty" and "America."
West Side Story runs Dec. 4-8 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater located at 899 Tenth Ave in Manhattan. Tickets are available by calling (212) 695-6908.
Originally produced by theatrical impresario Harold Prince, West Side Story, for all its artistic ambition and achievement, would win only two 1958 Tony Awards for its debut, Best Choreography for Jerome Robbins and Best Scenic Design for Oliver Smith. That year's popular and quaint nostalgic hit, The Music Man, would sweep most of the categories.