THE opening of West Side Story should have an extra ring of authenticity tonight thanks to a young man who has never set foot on a stage before.
The Sharks, a Puerto Rican street gang, hope to hit their Latin vowels after receiving tuition from Argentine Rotary exchange student Juan Alberghini, 19.
The That’s It Theatre Company version of the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim classic opens tonight at the Civic Theatre involving 60 young people.
It is the first time West Side Story has been staged by a local theatre company in Orange and it is also a first for Juan.
“I’ve never been in a play before. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been helping people with a few words,” he said.
The production, directed by Cecilia Rochelli and Robert Dunn, includes clashes between the Jets and the Sharks, all the favourite numbers like America, Maria, Tonight and Somewhere and also has a contemporary message.
“We are hoping to appeal to boys in particular, developing mateship through positives like theatre, dance and singing - with the idea of getting along with all backgrounds,” Cecilia said.
Juan is, fittingly, a member of the Sharks. “We dance, we fight, we sing,” he said in an accent bound to be the envy of other Sharks.
West Side Story opens tonight and closes on November 25. Tickets are available through Ticketek.