HVA musical theater’s ‘West Side Story’ April 27-29

Hardin Valley musical theater students practice a dance routine for their upcoming production of “West Side Story,” scheduled for April 27 through April 29, at HVA. On hand for the practice were from left, Chase Anderson, Max Anderson, Tristan Saidak, Alex Cole, Jakob Willen and Oliver Ediston.
Hardin Valley Academy’s musical theater students are rumbling to bring “West Side Story” to the community.

The class will perform the musical, which is open to the public, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 29, in the school auditorium, 11345 Hardin Valley Road.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and are available at the door.

About 100 students are involved in the production — from the orchestra to backstage and tech crews to the performers — said Teresa Scoggins, HVA choir director.

“[There are] around 60 on stage alone,” she added.

Of those cast members, sophomore Cameron Roberts and senior Chloe Freeman have the lead roles as Tony and Maria. They are joined by junior Cole Lawrence, playing Bernardo; junior Grace Warnock as Anita; senior Max Fleischhaker as Riff; and junior Triston Saidak as Action.

“The choreographer and I chose this musical because when (students) auditioned, we found out they could ‘really’ dance,” Scoggins said. “Therefore, we wanted to do a dance-heavy show.”

“West Side Story,” inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” just celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The musical originally was performed on Broadway in 1957 with music from Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. It was made into a movie production in 1961, which won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Set in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City in the mid-1950s, it tells the story of the rivalry between the Jets (Caucasian) and Sharks (Puerto Rican), two teen street gangs.

Tony, a former Jets member and best friend of Jets leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, sister of Bernardo, who leads the Sharks.

“In today’s political climate and all of the issues we still have with race, I believe that West Side Story is still very relevant to today’s world,” Scoggins said. “It is a story of love, yes; but [it also] is a story about how race and fear of things we don’t know can make us do and say things we don’t mean. These are lessons everyone can learn from.”