West Side Story - November 21 - December 07, 2019

Northridge High

 Director's Drivel 

Director's Notes: West Side Story has been, and always will be my favorite Musical. I have been dying in my sister’s arms since 1978!  West Side Story is directly based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I also adore Shakespeare, so that is also an obvious draw for me.  I do love me a happy and upbeat musical, but this one tells an important message through the most beautiful music and dance.  The themes of West Side Story are very relevant today.  Hate crimes, Love, Violence, Gang warfare, needing a place to belong, Racism… etc. -- all important topics for families and classrooms to discuss. I hope this performance will urge you to engaging in open discussions about these themes. There are messages here for generations to come.   When this play was originally on Broadway, it predated the civil rights movement.  This show is an important piece of the message that all men ARE created equal, and that there is no place for Racism in the world.  Many of my students were completely in the dark about what some cultures go through simply for being themselves.  This musical is so important for their learning and growth.  I hope you love it as much as we do.  As I have asked the Students how they are feeling, they all repeatedly gush about how much they love this show.  I do too, and I think it is evident in their performance.  Please take a moment, put down your social media, turn off your phone, get some good popcorn, cuddle up to a loved one (within reason) and enjoy the show.


Taunting Scene:  This is a difficult subject, but we need to talk about it...  Although West Side Story is my favorite musical, there are some elements that are hard to watch AND to portray.  We, as a cast and crew do not take these scenes lightly.  We have had many discussions about giving a voice to victims of such awful crimes.  This is their motivation, and the intensity you see in them is their commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless. It has been so good to discuss WHY we portray hard things on stage.  We know it is part of the story, and without it, Anita has no reason to tell them Maria is dead. (Also we are not allowed to change the script as written.)  Why is this terrible moment in such an amazing play?  Because it happens.  And it needs to stop.  Every member of my cast is committed to stopping this sort of violence. The first time they portrayed it, all the boys (and girl) hugged Kaoleni and cried. They had such meaningful discussions about boundaries, and respecting each other.

 The Jets are neither the good nor the bad guys; they are humans who make a big mistake.  My students have had a really hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that these characters that they love dearly and have worked so hard to build could do something so mean and vicious. And yet, in our world many “good” people do some very terrible things to each other.  It gives us pause to self-assess our own behaviors.  My students are presenting this scene to you in hopes that you ARE uncomfortable, and that sexual violence of any kind can stop happening in our society.  If you are uncomfortable, you should be.  And that is the entire point.  Together we can make it stop.



-I could not even hope to put on plays without the talents of the miraculous Jemay Marden!  I need to thank her so much because she is not a fan of this musical, and she did it anyway.  She is the reason the kids sound so magnificent.  When they sing the "quartet" just sit back and appreciate her talent. 

-Brayden Singley's Choreography is just inspired.  I am so grateful he takes the time to come to our little high school and share his gifts. 

-Brittany Roberts is also such a talent, she is so busy and we are grateful she makes us a priority! 

-Dustin Smith puts up with SO much to create the lights and sound.  He works with and trains our stage crew kiddos.  

-Autumn Coates, she is my other brain, because I need two.  I have been so blessed to have her help me because believe me, she puts up with a LOT.

-ALEX, JAKE, AUTUMN, and VINCE.  You are the reason I get up every day.

-Thanks to these people and all our committee heads who make my life so much easier! Kelly Poppleton, Michelle Snarr et al! 

Mamma Whatcott- The kids and I appreciate all your love and dedication!

Set builders- I would have died without you... Literally.  You know who you are!


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