GCT 1984 West Side Story Cast Members Reconnect And Watch 2021 Film Musical Remake | Relax


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The great American musical theater, “West Side Story” is considered a classic and a change agent in the genre.

There is a forbidden love between Tony and Maria and the Sharks / Jets who wage war on street gangs.

It takes place on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City in the 1950s, and the musical score is considered one of the greatest in modern history.

None other than Steven Spielberg has released a remake of the iconic musical version of the 1961 film. It received 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.

The 2021 film is Spielberg’s first musical as a director. It is worth the detour, cinematically and musically.

The 2021 film is in theaters now, with Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria.

On Tuesday evening, several actors who appeared on stage at the Greenwood Community Theater in 1984, for “West Side Story” productions, under the direction of then-GCT director Donald McKellar, who has since died, reunited for a private screening of Spielberg’s film at Greenwood’s Premiere Lux Ciné 10.

Kirk Husser, who played Tony of the Jets in GCT productions, hosted the screening.

Husser planned to surprise his fellow cast members with vintage images of themselves on the big screen before the new film debuted, but technical difficulties prevented him.

Still, Husser gave each of his fellow cast members USB drives with scanned images of what he had hoped to surprise them with onscreen.

“A lot of the actors from 1984 are still here, and quite a few are still in Greenwood,” Husser told the Index-Journal in December. “I thought we had the movie theater to ourselves to see the new version of the movie would be pretty cool.”

The film did not disappoint, garnering applause from GCT cast following various musical numbers including: the band number, “America” ​​and the sassy “Gee, Officer Krupke”.

Viewers at Tuesday’s private screening also applauded Rita Moreno, who played the role of Anita in the 1961 film.

In Spielberg’s 2021 film, Moreno stars as Valentina, Doc’s widow, and Moreno is the executive producer of that reboot. She performs a tender and moving take on the song “Somewhere”, changing things from how the musical has traditionally been made.

There are many more new features, to entertain audiences and grow a new generation of music fans.

Stewart Cooner, now 50 and well over 6 feet tall, was just 12 when he played the Jet Baby John on the GCT show.

The new movie, Cooner said, is very enjoyable.

Jeff Smith, who played Sharks chief Bernardo in GCT productions, said Spielberg’s 2021 film “is really, really good,” commenting on how socially conscious, bringing realism this update is. to gang conflicts, to the settings and layers of the New York neighborhood. sub-texts that keep it modern and engaging, while remaining true to its roots.

“I had family in Brooklyn that we visited when I was growing up,” Smith said. “The bedrooms, with the push button switches, brought it all back.”

Smith said that the scene of his own character’s death in the GCT production was unwittingly laughed at, when the curtain closed at the end of the scene and half of his torso was still visible to the audience.

“GCT, at the time, was leaking light,” Smith said, noting that it was decades before the theater’s major renovations and the space was never totally dark, even when the lights went out. were turning off. “No one was pulling me backstage out of public view, so I’m just starting to withdraw from the stage. As death.

Andrea Emerine Shepherd, now a voice teacher, who played the Jets’ daughter Minnie on the GCT shows, said that Spielberg’s movie “takes you on a whole different turn. I was so happy to see different things. .. The dances made their way into the stages in a more organic way.

In 1984, Husser said he was 25, worked in manufacturing, married with a young child at home and another on the way.

“Everyone in the cast was young,” Husser recalls. “Most were 20 years old or younger. “West Side Story” has always been on my short list of shows I want to do, and to boot I took the lead. “

Props tended to arrive a bit late in the GCT rehearsal process, Husser said.

“We’ve never had a gun in any rehearsal we’ve ever done,” Husser said. “Opening night, we had the first real gun, with real white ones … I walked out (in character) screaming for this guy to shoot me, and he does.”

“Flames erupted from the gun a distance of about three feet and burned the side of my face,” Husser recalls. “I had no problem (in my character) hitting the ground and being dead, because I wasn’t really sure if I had been hit or not. … Everyone on stage, and everyone in the theater, screamed.

The irony, Husser said, is not lost on him given the fatal shootout on the set of “Rust” in 2021.

“West Side Story” requires a lot of dancers in its cast, Husser said. “The dancing that is required is one of the reasons it is done so infrequently. And this is the first show for which the late Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics. He really stood out. It’s full of memorable songs.

The original Broadway production of “West Side Story” premiered on September 26, 1957 at the Winter Garden Theater. It lasted two years and has long been cited in conjunction with Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”.

But it was a 1961 film version of “West Side Story” that launched him into the mainstay that he is today.

“The 2021 remake has a bit more realism,” Husser said, noting that only Hispanic actors were chosen to play Puerto Rican characters this time around.

Keith Jameson Richard, who played the Jet Big Deal on GCT shows and now calls himself Keith Jameson, said the script for the Spielberg remake “tied things a bit more”.

Jameson came to the Greenwood Theater and became an acclaimed opera tenor, singing in venues such as Carnegie Hall.

“I love the character of Chino (one of the sharks) in this movie and ‘I Feel Pretty’ (set) in the department store is awesome,” Jameson said.

Contact Sainte-Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518.

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