Sixty years later, ‘West Side Story’ is still relevant

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By Zach Dunkin

The musical “West Side Story” is filled with bigotry, prejudice and violence. Sixty years after the late Jerome directed and choreographed the Broadway production — what with all of the talk about border walls and travel bans as part of our daily conversation — the musical is more relevant than ever.

At least that’s how choreographer Ron Morgan feels about the controversial musical that shocked theater-goers in 1957.

“This show is as relevant today as it was when it originally opened,” said Morgan, who has directed or choreographed more than 50 shows at the dinner theater on the northwest side of Indianapolis. “Setting up boundaries with prejudice will never solve anything. We need to focus on the most important part of this show, forgiveness and love.”

With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “West Side Story” transposes Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” to the gang-ridden streets of 1950s Manhattan, dominated by the Sharks and the Jets. Two teens from the bitter-enemy gangs meet and fall in love at a fateful gym dance.

The musical opened Aug. 17 for a run through Oct. 1.

B&B regulars will notice some new faces sprinkled among the veteran actors in this production. Morgan was part of an audition team that traveled to New York City last spring in search of new talent.

“With the popular ‘West Side Story’ in our upcoming season, we auditioned over 300 actors in just two days. It was exciting to see all the talent come out for our season,” said Morgan, who first came to B&B in 1989 after performing on Broadway in “Starlight Express” to make his Indy debut in “La Cage Aux Folles.”

“These actors are all experienced professionals. It’s nice to blend new blood with our talented local actors,” Morgan added.

For show details and ticket information, visit beefandboards.com. For reservations, call 317-872-9664.

 

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