JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU Drama Department Presents West Side Story

By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau

January 23, 2004 -- The streets of New York City will be re-created for the stage when three of Jacksonville State University’s arts departments collaborate to present “West Side Story.”

According to Wayne Claeren, the play’s director, dozens of students and instructors from the drama, music and art departments will have invested about four hours a night for six straight weeks to present the musical. It begins on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center with eight performances on various dates through Feb. 29. Sell-outs crowds are expected. See the complete schedule below.

“It’s an outstanding cast,” said Claeren, drama professor. “I’m delighted about the students in this show.

The cast is large – about 35 actors and actresses will be on hand, and that doesn’t include the orchestra, stage hands nor those working on the scenery.

The play is about a mid-century “Romeo and Juliet” who find themselves caught between warring street gangs. Tony and Maria share a love that is torn between cultures. Some of the most famous songs in America are taken from the classic -- “Maria,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” “America,” “Something’s Coming,” and “Somewhere.”

Three of the leading male roles are Tony, Bernardo and Chino, who will be played by Matt Thompson, Christian Fernandes and Chris Harper, respectively. Heather Norton will play Maria, and Judy Holt will play the role of Anita.

Others in the cast are: Stephen J. Williams, Matt Thompson, Casey Campbell, Jordan Christenot, Carl Wade Bramblett, Derek Gindlesperger, Jason Skinner, Cris Morriss, Russell Reeps, Kelly Summers, Amanda Kirker, Sara Murdock, Ashley McDonald, Dani Proctor, Amy Mitchell, Rocky Tajada, Joshua P. Sirten, Carlos Rivera, Brian Roberson, Obed Resendez, Britani Mason, Bess Van Leuven, Cassie Ferguson, Erin Pool, Mandy Dickens, Jessica Sanborn, Brian Seitel, Ben Whitehead, Andrew Cayse and Joseph Carter.

Mark Fifer directs the orchestra, Teresa Stricklin serves as voice instructor, Linze McCrae is student choreographer, and Carlton Ward is technical director.

“Some of them get a little break occasionally,” said Claeren, “but some are working straight through. And this year’s students are diligent about preparation and attentiveness.”

He’s pleased that the students get this opportunity to work on a play with such a reputation for high standards. “It’s a good step forward for them.”

Claeren said the industry is growing as far as available jobs. Former JSU graduates are currently working in regional theaters, amusement parks, studios and other venues.

Prices for the performances are $10 for general admission; $9 for faculty and senior citizens and $8 for students. Claeren advises calling the ticket booth soon for reservations. The number is 782-5648. Box office hours are from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before show times.

“This musical will be a great experience for our audience,” said Claeren.

Performances for West Side Story
  • Feb. 19th at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 20th at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 21st at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 22nd at 2 p.m.
  • Feb. 26th at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 27th at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 28th at 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 29th at 2 p.m.


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