West Side Story coming to Palo Alto

By R. M. Ozuniga
Pulse Staff Reporter

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Teatro Palo Alto will kick off its spring season with “West Side Story,” the first musical production the campus has had since “The Fantasticks” in the mid-1990s.

This will be Teatro’s first production that integrates singing and dancing, which sets a higher bar for its actors.

The intention of Hector Garza, PAC’s drama coordinator and production director, is to challenge his actors with plays that require more than just acting.

“We want to have a place for the community to come and enjoy art on a really high level,” Garza said.

For Teatro, the choice of plays revolves around which one can tell a story that the community will relate to.

“Theatre is a form of entertainment,” Garza said. “But if you only leave it in the world of entertainment, you’re missing the opportunity to affect change in the world.”

Garza’s objective is to show a diverse reality in his productions that speaks to the audience and makes an impact.

“West Side Story” is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” taking place in the crime-filled streets of Manhattan, where two young lovers of rival gangs have to keep their love a secret.

Edlyn De Oliveira, PAC’s music instructor and the production’s music director, said the theatre students work on the set design during practicum, in which they are going for an urban approach.

With over 30 actors casted, some actors have multiple roles.

De Oliveira said a lot of the lead roles are enrolled in private voice lessons, where they learn vocal techniques and the accuracy of each note.

De Oliveira describes the production as a collaboration between music majors and theatre majors. Some students have no stage experience, while others have no music experience.

Sophomore Music Major Sara Raney, who plays Anita, a lead role, said second grade was the last time she was in a play.

“Second grade, obviously it was just to have fun and kind of make everyone laugh,” Raney said, “but this one is like serious business, so it’s exciting, but I’m also nervous.”

Odelia Torres, a sophomore Music major who plays Maria, said she hasn’t worked so hard before, especially playing a lead role.

“They [the directors] expect a lot,” Torres said. “They want your voice to be tip top. I have to always drink water. I also have to always keep in shape.”

“West Side Story” is a musical that major universities don’t like to touch because of how difficult of a play it is, De Oliveira said.

“I’m really impressed by how committed the students themselves are to learning and growing,” De Oliveira said.

She mentioned that the actors take time outside of class and lessons to prepare for the musical.

“West Side Story” will run from May 3 through May 7, a total of five shows.

All shows start at 8 p.m., except May 7, which starts at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students (children, middle, high school, college students), faculty and staff.

For more information, contact Garza at (210) 486-3209 or email him at hgarza155@alamo.edu.

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