We asked the cast of West Side Story four questions about themselves and their relationship to the show.
Click each picture below to see their answers!
Where were you born/raised? Born in White Plains, NY. Raised in Morgantown, WV where I went to college at West Virginia University.
Tell us about your character. Maria is a young girl who has just moved from Puerto Rico to NYC and is eager for the possibilities of being a young lady in America. She falls in love for the first time and doesn’t see the “sides” the way the rest of the gangs do.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? My first memory of WSS is watching it in my mother’s music class as a young girl in school. I also became an usher at the university theatre when I was in college and saw it live for the first time there. I thought hopefully, “I could do that someday!” Four years later I performed Maria on that same stage with the National Tour.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? It’s a tie for favorite song – I love performing “Balcony Scene” and “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” the best. Balcony is so romantic and thrilling. It makes me think back to the first time I fell in love and how it literally changed my world. “Boy Like That/I Have a Love” is the moment Maria becomes a woman. She has to fight with Anita, practically her sister, to make her understand that this isn’t just some fling – she and Tony belong together and nothing will ever tear them apart.
Where were you born/raised? Born in Lugano Switzerland, raised in NYC.
Tell us about your character. Anita got out of the poverty that was Puerto Rico and is all about enjoying everything America has to offer her new life. She is quick, wise, beautiful, funny and very loving. And because she is, she is the only person in the play who sees and acts on behalf of the great love between Tony and Maria.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? Listening to the album my parents had; and when “America” would start, I felt a literal flame go on inside me…that has stayed burning my whole life.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? It is impossible for me to pick a favorite. As a dancer, the Mambo comes on and my adrenaline goes into overdrive. Same thing with the Prologue and The Scherzo in the ballet. Perhaps a less obvious moment, but a favorite for me is during “One Hand, One Heart”; at Maria’s entrance there is a gorgeous countermelody that harmonizes with her vocal line. The longing, purity and rapture in it and in the entire melody is elemental. Like love. Pure love.
Where were you born/raised? Boston, MA.
Tell us about your character. Chino. Very stoic, yet kind. Naive but full of repressed anger. He is a loyal, hard working individual who, despite his unmediated, malicious actions, just wants to fulfill the American Dream. His allegiance for his family ends up being his dramatic flaw in the end because he feels what he does is right.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? Watching the VHS at my grandmother’s house as a kid and then doing a production of it in high school. It was the first show that I felt a connection with my cast and made it helped me realize that theatre was not only an artistic outlet, but a place where people could come together as a community and create memories.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? “Balcony Scene (Tonight).” I love the lush, romantic lyrics and recognizable tune. It’s such a hopeful song that proves there is power in love despite adversity.
Where were you born/raised? Born and raised in Waltham, MA – a suburb of Boston.
Tell us about your character. Indio is a member of the Sharks who has been in America longer than most in the gang. He is tough, passionate, a little cocky but filled with respect for his people and where he came from.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? My first memory of West Side Story was sitting on my father’s lap at a very young age and watching the movie for the first time. I distinctly remember being in awe of the masculine, explosive dancing.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? My favorite song from the show is “I Have a Love” because “when love comes so strong – there is no right or wrong…” Nothing is black and white when it comes to love.
Where were you born/raised? Panamá, República de Panamá.
Tell us about your character. Francisca is a sassy Latina who has a sense of humor. She knows the New York life well and is not afraid to work hard to get what she wants. Family is always first.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? Listening to “America” while studying Musical Theatre in New York. Even though WSS came to my life only two years ago, it stuck. Such delicious music! (and then fell madly in love with the dancing. That was it for me.)
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? This is a tough one! I think “Maria” is my favorite song because it shows how passionately you can love someone. That adoration you feel and how that person means more than the world to you. Tony latches to her name with such ardor that it makes us believe love can conquer anything. And it makes me even more grateful for the love I have.
Where were you born/raised? Arlington, Virginia.
Tell us about your character. Pepe. Hotheaded lieutenant to Bernardo and the Sharks. Fiery, protective, loyal. Bernardo and Anita’s proverbial pitbull.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? I don’t know where I heard it first, but I remember seeing it for the first time at Toby’s Dinner Theatre several years ago. Even before that somehow I was aware of the iconic snapping and dancing without having seen it, and remember hearing ‘Tonight’ in a Mountain Dew commercial as a kid.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? “Cool.” Appropriately titled, and a song that emphasizes the importance of falling back on your intellect as opposed to your emotion when tempers flare. Knee-jerk reactions can not only be foolish, but dangerous.
Where were you born/raised? Freeport, Long Island, New York.
Tell us about your character. Consuelo is an Americanized Puerto Rican young woman. She is very close to Anita, and they share similar ideas of the importance, and opportunity of assimilation. She works in a hair salon, which was her inspiration to dye her hair blonde; she wants to be like the models on the advertisements, and other women who enter the salon.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? The dancing! The first time I saw West Side Story was as a child, watching the movie. I was completely obsessed with each gang’s style of dance. “America” was my favorite number to sing and dance to as a child; my father would play his vinyl record of West Side Story through the speaker system in the house, and I would preform the number in the mirror… for myself!
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? Every musical number in the show is my favorite. Is that cheating?! Each song posses a new intention, even if its the same melodic theme, or lyrical plot. You can’t have one number without the other; each song catapults you into the next, a circle of life if you will.
Where were you born/raised? Mount Dora, Florida.
Tell us about your character. I play Luis, a member of the Sharks. He definitely feels this is more of a family than a gang. It’s very important to Luis to help protect the others.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? My first memory of West Side Story would be watching the movie with my mom and loving how this was a story about men using dance to express themselves. Very inspirational.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? “Dance at the Gym.” As a dancer, this is the moment I love and long for the most in the show. It’s a celebration of life and pride.
Where were you born/raised? Washington, DC.
Tell us about your character. Like the other Sharks, Teresita came to the United States seeking a better life. My character is particularly close to Anita and Consuelo, having known them prior to leaving Puerto Rico. Teresita works at a beauty salon and loves to doll herself up like a proper lady of America.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? My first memory of West Side Story was watching the 1961 film with my grandmother. I will never forget hearing that initial burst of music for the first time in the Overture—pure magic.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? My favorite song in West Side Story is the “Dance at the Gym” musical sequence. The dynamic rhythms of Bernstein coupled with the iconic movement of Robbins is simply extraordinary.
Where were you born/raised? Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the Olney, MD area.
Tell us about your character. Rosalia wants nothing more than to return to her home in Puerto Rico. She finds pride in being the girlfriend of a member of the Sharks, but wishes to keep the peace among the gangs.
What is your first memory of West Side Story? Of course, the movie. Secondly, when I first started acting I watched my brother in his high school production of West Side Story. He played a Shark and was showcased doing a backflip during the Prologue. I was starstruck by the entire production and fell in love with the music.
What is your favorite song in West Side Story and why? The Quintet gives me chills every single time I hear it. The excitement and anticipation in the music is visceral. The lyrics are simplistic yet capture the heightened emotions of all parties involved.