HEARTWOOD & LA in 15th Year of Collaborations, presenting WEST SIDE STORY


We’re at it again this fall, more ambitious than ever!  Heartwood Theater and Lincoln Academy are collaborating for the 15th consecutive season, in a mammoth musical undertaking open to all Midcoast youths – West Side Story. 
“With 20 adult actors, musicians, technicians and directors and nearly 40 students from several schools involved as performers, musicians and technicians, this is a substantial undertaking,” notes Director, Griff Braley.  The sheer volume of work from so many is astounding, and their efforts will culminate in seven Poe Theater performances, November 3rd – 11th.  
“For students who are fortunate enough to be involved, this will require everything they can bring, over the next eight weeks. It’s the kind of experience youths will remember, for years to come.  For some, it will be a life changer,” notes Heartwood’s ED, Joy Braley.  For LA students, the enormous time and effort required for this production qualifies for school credit, a new and exciting arrangement at LA.
West Side Story, originally produced on Broadway in in 1957, is based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.  In fact, this production was Sondheim’s Broadway debut and was nominated for six Tony Awards.  
Set in the Upper West Side of NYC in the mid 1950’s, the musical explores the dynamics between two teenage, ethnic street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes and focus on social problems could not be more relevant, for today.
Packed full of dance and music, the need for experienced, professional staff is of paramount importance.   
MICHELLE BRUCKNER, NY based director/choreographer is back on the Heartwood/LA scene, having choreographed two Heartwood productions and Summer Camp last season and two numbers for the LA Eagle Term course “Just Off Broadway” last May, a new course team-taught by LA teachers, Braley and Beth Preston.  Bruckner will travel from NY to Maine six times in the next month and a half, teaching choreography and dance to students, many of whom have little or no prior experience.  “It’s a giant step forward for the students, as well as Heartwood and LA,” notes Braley, having long envisioned dance as an integrated programmatic component in the Midcoast.
BETH PRESTON, acclaimed choral instructor teaching at LA, has worked closely with Braley on adult and student musicals for nearly 20 years.  Selecting show titles that will work for available students requires a close and trusting partnership and mutual commitment to place students in roles where they will be challenged, but can succeed. 
Auditions for West Side Story were held last spring, with a record number of students putting themselves on the line for parts.  Once cast, the lead performers – Kayleigh Tolley as Anita and Ethan Jones as Tony -  spent much of their summer learning the vast amount of music, under the careful teaching and vocal care of Preston.  Many of the early full cast rehearsals have been spent with Preston, conquering the sophisticated music of large (and smaller) group numbers.  (Once learned, the challenge becomes moving from vocals-only, to the stage … where not only voices, but actions, intentions, dance and character development are integrated.)   
SEAN FLEMING, practically a household name to anyone involved in Midcoast choral groups, leads the charge as Music Director and has hand-picked a group of several professional musicians (including LA Band Director, Liz Matta, and GSB Choral Director, Anne-Marie D’Amico) and one very talented high school student, Chris Burrows.
The music, dance and drama of West Side Story have resonated in our collective memories for so long – tickets are expected to go quickly; early reservations are a very good idea.    
Made possible, in part, by: Heartwood Season Sponsor, Bath Savings Institution; Season Youth Sponsor, Damariscotta Hardware; Production Sponsors Chesterfield Associates and Supplies Unlimited. 
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International. 
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