50th Anniversary Production of West Side Story Begins Performances in NC May 3

News   50th Anniversary Production of West Side Story Begins Performances in NC May 3
Gerald Freedman, directorial assistant for the original 1957 production of West Side Story and co-director of the show's 1980 revival, directs the 50th anniversary production of the classic Jerome Robbins-Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Featuring musical direction by John Mauceri, who worked closely with Bernstein for 18 years, the musical plays the Roger L. Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC, May 3-13 with a special gala performance May 5. Chicago's Ravinia Festival will present the "fully staged Broadway caliber" production June 8.

The cast, crew and orchestra for West Side Story features 100 students from all five of NCSA's professional training schools. The cast is headed by senior drama students Paul Baswell and Jordan Brown as Tony and Katharine Elkington and Anna Wood as Maria. Kevin Backstrom has re-created Robbins' choreography.

In a recent statement, Mauceri, who is the new chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts, said, "To me, our production of West Side Story is a touchstone for what is happening to the arts in America. At the School of the Arts, we are examining our curriculum and our teaching methods to enable cross-disciplinary learning. This will strengthen the development of our students as whole artists and will give them advantages few schools offer.

West Side Story debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in September 1957. It played 732 performances before closing June 27, 1959. Conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the original cast included Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria and Chita Rivera as Anita. The classic Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim score boasts such tunes as "Tonight," "America," "Maria," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere." Arthur Laurents penned the book.

Tickets for the NCSA performances are available by calling (336) 721-1945. Tickets for the Ravinia performance can be purchased by calling (847) 266-5100. Visit www.ncarts.edu for more information.

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