West Side Story on stage July 2-3 and July 5 at Flagler College

Students stage West Side Story July 2-3 and July 5 in Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College. The musical is part of the 21st season of Summer Musical TheatreCamp. Photos by Renee Unsworth

Students stage West Side Story July 2-3 and July 5 in Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College. The musical is part of the 21st season of Summer Musical TheatreCamp. Photos by Renee Unsworth

48 area high school students on stage Summer Musical TheatreCamp production

St. Augustine, FL — The Summer Musical TheatreCamp opens its twenty-first season with a classic musical theater production this week.

West Side Story – the updated muslcal retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — will be performed at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, 14 Granada St., downtown St. Augustine.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 2-3; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 5.  There is a Sunday matinee on July 5 at 2:00 PM. There is no Saturday performance in honor of St. Augustine’s July 4th Independence Day celebration.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children 8 and younger. The box office opens one hour before each show. The theater opens one half-hour before each show. Seating is general admission. There is no reserved or call-ahead seating. For additional information, call 904-501-7396.

West Side Story was the musical collaboration of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The book was written by Arthur Laurents and based on a concept by Jerome Robbins.  The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City in the mid-1950’s.

The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, are taunted by the Jets, a Caucasian gang.

The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

The story is based on two people who meet and fall in love bur are separated because they come from different groups that don’t like each other. The dark themes, sophisticated music, dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theater. West Side Story is considered the greatest musical in the history of American musical theater.

“Here is a show written in the sixties and yet it is a timeless story of social problems and acceptance of all cultural backgrounds,” said director Mike Beaman.

“With the events of this past week this story takes on even greater meaning in the fight for equality and learning to appreciate people for who they are, their talents and what they bring to community and society.”

“In the twenty-one years of this educational program I have never seen such a talented group of high-school kids,” said Curtis Powell, music director for the production.

“This production is by far the most spectacular and moving musical theater show we have ever put on the stage.  The 48 kids bring life, energy and excitement to the stage. It’s a must-see show for the entire family.”
Mike Beaman serves as Artistic Director for the summer program and Director/Choreographer for West Side Story.  Nikki Falcao is the Assistant Director. Carl Liberatore returns as Technical Director.  Curtis Powell works as Administrator and Music Director for the program.

The Summer Musical TheatreCamp, now in its 21st season, has excelled in its goal of giving students a taste of musical theater by instructing in all aspects of a musical theater production: Acting, music and dance.  The camp culminates in the creation and performance of complete staged musical theater and theatrical productions before a live audience.

The cast includes: Isaiah Balzer as Officer Shrunk and Pepe; Isaac Barzso, Officer Krupke and Nibbles; Alexandra Blackwell, Velma; Olivia Bleak, Rosalia; Ava Bratic, Aida; Noah Budkoski, Baby John; Yul Carrion, Bernardo; Anastasia Costas, Susie; Maggie Creasman, Martha; Sara Crocco, Clarice; Brent Davis, Arab; Levi Derickson, Anxious; Isabel Dondero, Anita; Nick Dondero, Big Deal; Ben Douse, Doc; Sofia Ferraro, Estella; Carolina Galloza, Francisca; Raven Gebhard, Margarita; Gwen Gitto, Paoletta; Simone Glomboski, Emalita; Shaina Greene, Isabel; Chelsea Hart-Cantabene, Teresita; Scott Haupt, Action; Lily Hayes, Linda; Rebekah Herskovitz, Pauline; Nathaniel Heustis, Geetar; Shannon Holder, Consuela; Mya Horn, Minnie; Devin Johnson, Tony; Sydney Leiser, Graziella; Raquel Martin, Lilla; Serena McCarthy, Gabriella; Blake McCLure, Mouthpiece; Bryce McClure, Luis; Emilee McLean, Julia; McKenna Nelson, Gwendolyn; Patrick Paulding, Indio; Chase Pittman, Chino; Lucas Sanders, Diesel; Trey Simmons, Tiger and Gladhand; Gemma Smith, Maria; Cameron Sparks, Snowboy; Sarah Stepp, Emily; Liz Steward, Anybodys; Trey Stripling, Riff; Chance Usina, Toro; Abby Watson, Deborah; and Maya Weed as Chita.

The Summer Musical TheaterCamp is widely recognized as the leading training ground for young actors. Since its inception in 1995, with 30 kids ages 5 to 14, the educational program has produced 35 musical theater shows with over 1500 kids and teens in participation. For the past 12 years, the SMTC for teens has produced full-scale Broadway musicals on its stage.  Additionally, for a sixth year, the middle school/high school group will present its own full-scale musical in an effort to give these younger actors the skills and opportunities to be on stage in leading rolls.  The actors have come not only from St. Augustine and throughout the state, but from across the USA including New Jersey, California, Ohio, Wisconsin; and even England and Malaysia. Many kids and teens have spent up to 13 years in the program with several now working as professional actors throughout the county. Many are now in leading college programs throughout the country and as far away as Abu Dahbi, Saudi Arabia. Many former SMTC alumni are working as professional actors around the country. This summer over 175 kids ranging from age 5 to 18 will take part in this  2015 summer season.

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