This year the Kahilu Theatre Youth Troupe will present the classic Broadway musical, West Side Story at the Kahilu Theatre, Friday and Saturday, June 21- 22, 2019, at 7 PM and Sunday, June 23 at 4 PM. You can find ticket info below.
Director Beth Dunnington explains what it’s been like working with the Kahilu Theatre Youth Troupe in preparation for West Side Story. “The kids have been training all year to be ready… taking extra voice lessons, they’ve tripled their dance classes”, said Dunnington from her home on the Big island. “This is our biggest cast with thirty-seven people. The show encompasses the entire Youth Troupe in addition to a number of Youth Troupe members who grew up and left the island – they’re flying back in to do this because it’s such a significant show!”
Set in an Upper West Side New York City neighborhood in the mid-1950’s, the musical explores a turf war between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. “It’s such a beloved and iconic musical and it’s an important story about race and about people on the outside and people not accepting each other just because of the color of their skin,” explains Dunnington. “The Kahilu Theatre’s Executive Director Deborah Goodwin suggested the idea of covering West Side Story this year. It’s a love story is based on Romeo and Juliet and Leonard Bernstein placed it in New York City at the time of the gang wars. The story of people not accepting each other because of their differences still stands!”
Seasoned choreographer Angel Prince is also excited to be working on West Side Story and with the Theatre’s Youth Troupe. “It’s a thrill to be able to reproduce Jerome Robbins’ choreography,” said Prince. “I’m trying to stick as closely as possible to his classic, beautiful, and iconic work, and I consider it a masterpiece. I will do some modification because these are young students. The choreography is fast and technical, and you have to adjust for the students’ age and ability. The Youth Troupe are up to the challenge, and they’ve been working really hard all year in preparation. It’s going to be a great show!”
Prince talks about how much the play relies on dance to tell its story. “I think this is one of the most difficult shows that incorporates dance that exists on Broadway. It is asking for the highest level musically, acting, and dance. Dance is featured throughout the show, and it’s as important as the singing and the script. The whole opening prologue, which lasts about ten minutes, is all dance. They don’t sing. They have very little dialogue. It’s all there, and that’s the opening of the show. So, dance is telling a huge story. It’s really important that you have dancers who can do storytelling with their bodies, with their face, and emote while dancing.”
West Side Story’s dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dream-like dance scenes, and focus on social problems, marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
If You Go…
West Side Story premieres at the Kahilu Theatre on Friday June 21, and Saturday 22, with 7 PM showings. On Sunday June 23rd, there will be an afternoon matinée at 4 PM.
Tickets are $38, $28, and $22 and can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org, (808) 885-6868 or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela.