Wednesday, November 19, 2008

West Side Story

BU-DAAAAAAA DUM. badadaaaa. pa-dum, pa-dum, padum padum. pa-dum, pa-dum, padum pa-dum. *snap* - *snap* - *snap*...

Feel free to read that while listening to the first bit of the Prologue to West Side Story, and you will get an idea of what I sound like every time I listen to the album.

I am so excited to announce that I will be playing Tony in West Side Story at Cassidy Theatre in Parma Heights, OH February 27th through March 22nd 15th.

West Side Story remains one of the best known, most loved, and most parodied musicals in American Theater. Everyone knows it, most people love it, and almost everyone can laugh with it in a very respectful way. We laugh at the IDEA of gangs dancing and singing while fighting, but the reality is that somehow, someway, West Side Story more than pulls it off.

The music is simply brilliant. It's the kind that is pretty, yet complicated the first time you hear it. The next few times you listen to it, you are trying to figure it all out. Then finally you get to a place where you are comfortable with it and it just never seems to get old.

The story is classic. A Romeo and Juliet type adventure full of forbidden love, social injustice, gang-imposed segregation, and lessons learned at terrible costs. It's a beautiful story that I recall being very skeptical of when I was young. I remember thinking that Tony and Maria fall in love way too fast. I thought that it was a cool show, but unrealistic. But as I've grown, I've learned how quickly people can connect. I've learned that if the right 2 people happen to be at the right dance in the right gym on the right night, it doesn't matter what the rules say, they will fall for each other. And Tony and Maria fall fast. I learned that the story is not unrealistic, it's simply uncommon. But what common story would be worth telling? I believe, and hope to bring to the character of Tony, that had he and Maria lived to the age of 100, they would still light up when the other walked in the room. That if they had run away to a place where they could be free, they would not have given up at the first sign of trouble. They were in it for the long haul, and somehow, they knew that amazingly quickly.

The choreography is out of control. This is an area that I will be the first to concede I have no right to talk about. Luckily, Tony is not usually required to dance much in the show (phew). All I know is this: Traditionally, this show has crazy sweet choreography and I saw some awesome work from the choreographer and the other auditioners. It's going to be hot and Latin-infused and hot and fun and fresh and hot.

On a personal note... If you had asked me 6 months ago what my top 3 roles that I would want to play that I hadn't yet played were, they would have been as follows:

1)Jamie - The Last Five Years

2)Mark (or Roger or anyone) - Rent

3)Tony - West Side Story

If you had told me 6 months ago that I would get to play 2 of those parts in the next year, I would have laughed at you. The fact that I will be able to check off 2 of those parts plus all the other unexpected parts I've gotten to play in that time is something I can't even put words to. I am so incredibly lucky. Yes, I understand they are community theatre shows. But to that I say, screw you, and have you seen some of the community theatre in NE Ohio? It's not all perfect, but there are some serious gems out there if you invest a little time to look for them. And I feel like I've been lucky enough to be a part of a few of those gems. As I discussed recently with a fellow NE Ohio theatre-maker, It doesn't matter if you have a huge budget, a tiny theatre, a rich community, big names, or a soap box in the back yard. Great theatre comes from a group of great individuals with a bit of talent and lot of heart. I have high hopes that we can deliver just that, come February!