Presenting West Side Story in Manitou

Tickets are on sale for this yearÕs production of West Side Story at the Candlewick Productions box office (822-7469), Nellie McClung Collegiate (242-2640) or at CJÕs Convenience Store in Manitou. Adults are $12 in advance/$15 at the door; students and seniors are $8 advance/$10 at the door; and children 12 and under are $6 advance/$8 at the door.

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Get your snapping fingers ready because the “American” Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks are ready to take over the streets of Manitou. Candlewick Productions and Nellie McClung Collegiate are partnering once again for the Spring 2019 Musical in Manitou. This year the fun and excitement will take place March 14,15,16 and 17 with their production of West Side Story.
First on stage in 1957, the classic was quickly adapted for film in 1961 and the rest is history; told from the fire escape! Caitlin Cranmer is co-director of this year’s production and not only loves West Side Story but the classic story it tells, one that should be familiar, and very relatable, to most. “It tells a story of two lovers who desperately want to be with each other, but have to hide their love due to their feuding families. This story was inspired by Romeo and Juliet and I think audiences, especially students in high schools studying the Shakespearean play, can really relate to the characters and their circumstances.”
Another reason Cranmer feels audiences will really connect with the production is that it tells the immigrant story so many Canadians have personally experienced. “Audiences can relate to the struggle of starting again, to the history of America and the immigration that helped populate the country. Even today, people are immigrating to America to find a better life and are being met with discrimination.”
While the actual nationality of Puerto Ricans may not be prevalent in the area, the history they experienced is a familiar tale for many. “In West Side Story, the Puerto Rican immigrants are faced with racism and struggle to establish themselves as citizens in America. Due to rising hostility, each side is forced to defend their own and violence ensues. I think audiences can relate to these issues that have happened in the past and are going on even today, both in the USA, Canada, and other countries.”
Cranmer, cast, and crew are also excited for the production as it offers something different from what the group is used to performing in the past. “The cast and crew are excited to take on a dramatic story. In the past, we have always performed comedies with happy endings, but this year the students wanted to take on a more adult play that dealt with real issues, and how sometimes things don’t always end up the way you want them to.” While some might be hesitant to move on from what they are comfortable with, Cranmer is excited to see the local actors wanting to push their abilities, “The cast and crew realize that the subject matter is tough and dark, but they want to produce a play where audiences may walk away sad, but hopeful.”
Another star in this year’s play isn’t a new “face”, but an element that will be stepping from the shadows. “West Side Story has an amazing score. The music itself could be considered one of the actors in the story because the score and the lyrics really drive the story and show the characters’ emotions.” With the bigger sound it also meant needing more, “we have added more instruments to this year’s production. Normally we have somewhere between four to five people in our band, but this year we’re adding violins, a saxophone, flutes and possibly other instruments.”
Cranmer is quick to point out the reason they can even consider having a bigger band presence. “We have been so lucky to have so many adult volunteers who give over their time and talent to our productions and this year we are happy that even more have joined us! We are very fortunate.”
Tickets are on sale for this year’s production of West Side Story at the Candlewick Productions box office (822-7469), Nellie McClung Collegiate (242-2640) or at CJ’s Convenience Store in Manitou. Adults are $12 in advance/$15 at the door; students and seniors are $8 advance/$10 at the door; and children 12 and under are $6 advance/$8 at the door.

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