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“West Side Story” is coming to Moonlight Amphitheatre

Left to right: Michael James Byrne, Bella Gil, Taylor Simmons, Steven Glaudini, Hector Guerrero, Courtney Arango, and Armando Eleazar .
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

Original director and choreographer Jerome Robbins conceived the idea for “West Side Story” basing it on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” This revered musical tells the tragic love story of Tony and Maria as they seek “a somewhere” where their love can survive in the midst of chaos of two warring gangs who clash in a turf war on the gritty streets of New York City of the 1950s.

This revolutionary musical changed the course of American musical theatre when it premiered on Broadway in 1957 with Leonard Bernstein’s bold and Grammy-winning score, the soaring lyrics of Stephen Sondheim making his Broadway debut at age 25, and Jerome Robbins’ milestone direction and breathtaking choreography. Arthur Laurents completed the artistic team as the show’s Tony-nominated author.

The Grammy-winning score includes “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,” “America,” “Somewhere,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Jet Song,” and “Cool.” Moonlight Stage Productions is dedicating its production of “West Side Story” to the memory of Harold “Hal” Prince, the original Broadway production’s producer who passed away at age 91 on July 31, 2019. Prince stepped in to save the musical by securing funding after the original producer backed out fearing the show was “too dark” and would flop.

Starring in the Moonlight revival are Bella Gil as Maria and Michael James Byrne as Tony. Gil is a recent Orange County High School of the Arts graduate whose credits include lead roles in productions of “Sweeney Todd,” “She Loves Me” in concert, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “The Secret Garden,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Follies,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Byrne is a New York City-based actor returning to the Moonlight after starring as Chad in the 2015 production of “All Shook Up.” He has performed internationally in the premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s “Magic To Do,” and “Rock Of Ages.” His regional credits include lead roles in “Mary Poppins,” “South Pacific,” “42nd St.,” “Smokey Joe’s Café” and others.

As Riff, the leader of The Jets, Taylor Simmons is marking his sixth production of “West Side Story” having recently appeared as A-Rab for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Snowboy for Atlanta Opera, Gee-Tar for Kansas City Opera, Luis for Houston Grand Opera, and Baby John for San Diego Musical Theatre.

Armando Eleazar makes his Moonlight debut as Bernardo, the leader of The Sharks. Later this year, Eleazar makes his Broadway debut in the ensemble of the Broadway revival of “West Side Story.” He is a graduate of AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, receiving his BFA. As Anita, Courtney Arango makes her Moonlight debut. Her credits include “In the Heights” for Portland Center Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and The Ordway; Weston Playhouse’s “West Side Story,” The MUNY’s “Shrek The Musical,” “The Addams Family,” and “Mary Poppins”; The Fulton Theater’s “Footloose;” Maine State Music Theater’s “Spring Awakening;” and The Crest Theater’s “A Chorus Line” Her concert appearances include “A Night With The Stars” (featuring Chita Rivera, Matthew Morrison, and Heather Headley); and with the Boston Pops.

Also featured in the cast: Mikayla Agrella (Consuelo), Danielle Airey (Graziella), Marcos Alexander (Chino), Ariana Alvarez (Francisca), Tatiana Monique Alvarez (Francisca), Lacey Beegun (Anybodys), Jake Bradford (A-Rab), Calvin Brady (Snowboy), Carly Cannata (Estela), Devin Collins (Officer Krupke), Wes Dameron (Luis), Max DeLoach (Gee-Tar), Enrique Dueñas (Anxious), Johnny Fletcher (Lt. Schrank), Augusto Guardado (Nibbles), Ralph Johnson (Doc), Drew Lake (Velma), Timothy Lewis (Pepe), Milan Magaña (Rosalia), Katie Marshall (Minnie), Sarah Morgan (Clarice), Shahil Patel (Indio), Trevor Rex (Diesel), Simoné Sassudelli (Big Deal), Jaysen Waller (Gladhand), and Michael Wells (Action).

Moonlight Producing Artistic Director Steven Glaudini directs “West Side Story” and is joined by choreographer Hector Guerrero who is reproducing Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. Music Direction is overseen by Elan McMahan and Randi Ellen Rudolph. McMahan also conducts the 29 piece orchestra in Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score.

Scenic and Projection Design is by Robert Andrew Kovach, Costume Design by Dixon Reynolds, Lighting Design by Jennifer Edwards, Sound Design by Jim Zadai, Wig Design by Peter Herman, Makeup Design by Kathleen Kenna, Costume Coordination by Carlotta Malone, Roslyn Lehman, and Renetta Lloyd (with additional costume design by Lloyd), Properties Master is Bonnie Durben, and the production’s Stage Manager is Jennifer L. Moody.

Tickets, priced $17 - $57, are on sale now online at moonlightstage.com or by phone by calling VisTix at (760) 724-2110. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and military. 

“West Side Story” August 14 - 31, 2019

Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Curtain at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets: $17 - $57

Moonlight Amphitheatre is located at 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista

Phone: (760) 724-2110

 Click HERE for ticket information. 

LUNA CAFÉ AT THE MOONLIGHTThe Luna Café is the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s restaurant and is operated by Kitchens for Good, a non-profit organization providing innovative solutions in workforce training, healthy food production, and social enterprise. Luna Café offers pre-show dining outdoors on the Moonlight Patio where glimpses of the sunset can be seen before patrons take their seats for the show. The Café also offers delicious intermission snacks to all theatregoers including beverages. Menu information and online reservation can be made at lunacafevista.com.

PICNICKING AT THE MOONLIGHT

One of the most unique theatre-going experiences found anywhere is Moonlight’s lawn seating, allowing patrons to bring their own picnic suppers into the theatre and picnicking before the show. Lawn ticket holders receive a chair as part of their ticket upon entry to the theatre.

MOONLIGHT AMPHITHEATRE

Gates open for picnicking and dining 90 minutes before curtain. Non-alcoholic beverages and food may be brought into the Amphitheatre. Parking is free.