Quote of the Day: Why do you live like there’s a war on? Why do you kill? Doc, from the iconic musical West Side Story, re-imagined and diversely cast at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. My first thought as the Jets entered and took over the stage was, “This is a representation of a neighborhood,” more like In the Heights where people from multiple cultural and racial backgrounds form a gang to protect their territory. It’s less Whites against Puerto Ricans and more “We got here first, who are you to invade our territory.” It’s the immigrant story of America because each time a new group of people arrives on the borders of the United States of America, they become the hated group. The groups that have already arrived are still fighting for their place in line, and aren’t about to give it up.
Director Joseph Haj is behind the more diverse, and inclusive, casting, and his decision to hire Choreographer Maija Garcia to create new moves to represent the groups and tell this story, the story of what it means to be an American, to be new in this diverse and difficult country, and to give voice (through movement) to many varied cultures. It was fascinating, refreshing, poignant, and compelling. I wish I could see it again.
I’m grateful that I attended the Sunday, June 24, matinee performance which included a post play discussion. I learn so much about the creative process during those talk backs. Many of the cast members came out to talk to the audience, answer questions, and offer insight. They all seemed to agree that the casting and choreography choices made the creative process for them even better. They felt they were part of the show in a way that can only be done through an openness to new ideas. They performers said they felt they could bring their own personal relevance/light to the story as they built it together.
Watching this cast create this story with fresh ideas, movement, and staging made West Side Story more emotional and relevant to me. I heard new lines, paid more attention to the lyrics (especially in “Gee, Officer Krupke”) and felt even stronger the frustration with violence and fear created between groups.
The entire production is emotional and spectacular. The cast members are tremendous, especially the leads who give so much heart to their characters. The lighting, sound, and set are powerful. The musicians, lead by Mark Hartman and Denise Prosek, are outstanding. I hope you get a chance to see this powerful performance of West Side Story at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. Playing through August 26, 2018.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Are you open to new perspectives on old ideas or stories?