“West Side Story,” Nov 3-11, is the first big “Triple Threat” undertaking with Heartwood and Lincoln Academy, since “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in 2008.  What makes it triple? It’s loaded with singing, dancing and acting.  It’s an incredible opportunity most young actors could only dream of.  It’s most certainly one they will never forget.
By the time this show opens in the Poe Theater on November 3rd, 36 students will have spent more than 40 hours just learning and rehearsing dance basics and choreography, with NY based choreographer, Michelle Bruckner.  Several students come with years of dance experience, but many more do not.  To their surprise, they are discovering that a three-hour dance rehearsal, following a full day of school, can be very energizing.
Singing began for the lead roles during the summer and continues, even now, with LA’s choral instructor, Beth Preston.  Early full cast and smaller group rehearsals were spent working the masterful lyrics and tunes put together way back in the mid 1950’s, by Bernstein and Sondheim.  It’s challenging music, not only for singers, but for the professional orchestra in rehearsals with Sean Fleming.
Content-wise, it’s difficult material.  First and foremost, it’s a love story, but quickly rising to the surface are issues of immigration and racism, as in “Romeo and Juliet”, the story on which this show is based. Of course, these themes are relevant to current times, but they are certainly not new.  Love and hate and the way they weave in complicated patterns through our lives - this is always relevant.  Director Griff Braley focuses intensely with students not only on what’s happening in each scene, but addressing the question of why, of intent and what’s really going on with their character, beneath the words and actions.
The first 5 weeks of rehearsals have been directed largely in a single area – singing, dancing or acting. The most challenging rehearsals are yet to come.  Putting it all together.  It’s one thing to sing while standing, to dance in a choreography session, to consider and develop one’s character during scene work.  Meshing all of this together into one rich, artistic whole requires everything the cast, crew and directors can bring to the process.  Stitching it together requires a great deal of patience and trust, on everyone’s part.
And timing is everything.  Setting a nine-week rehearsal trajectory, considering time for each area, time to weave these areas into one fabric, and time to layer in the technical elements to fully complement the production is an artform, itself.  Braley and his tech crew put the chain link fence set in place very early on, giving actors the greatest amount of rehearsal time on the actual set.  Lighting and costuming are nearly in place, leaving the final weeks of rehearsal unencumbered by dreaded starts/stops for light cues and costume modifications.   The arc of the rehearsal process will rise, as all of the pieces come together, over the next 4 weeks. The result will be a most memorable experience, for performers and audience, alike.
Tickets are selling quickly; reservations a must. 
“West Side Story” is 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.
Developed by Whitelancer Web Development | www.whitelancer.com