Drama and music will come together and put on a spectacular show of love, comedy, and tragedy for friends and family. This year, the musical theatre and theatre production groups will present West Side Story.

“West Side Story is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet,” explained Justin Maller, drama teacher. “Instead of the Montagues and the Capulets, you have the Jets and the Sharks.”

“The story kind of follows Romeo and Juliet, where Tony, the Romeo character, and Maria, our Juliet character, fall in love even though they’re on the opposite sides,” said Maller.

“[There] are two different [groups] of immigrants, [Puerto Ricans and European], battling to belong in America,” continued Maller.

“The ending is a little bit traumatic. There’s a bit of violence in this show. There’s nightmarish scenes and a lot of really challenging and excellent choreography,” added Maller.

Christian Ramirez, grade 11, plays Tony while Hira Lalani, grade 12, plays Maria. “Maria is definitely the heaviest character I’ve ever taken on,” said Lalani.

She described it being a unique experience that had many learning opportunities for her. “Maria goes through a lot during West Side Story, and I feel what she feels,” added Lalani. “It’s emotionally draining, but in the best way,” explained Lalani.

Previously in the fall, the chosen musical was All Shook Up, however; Maller decided the musical was not challenging enough.

“After the first round of auditions, I felt [the musical] that was selected wasn’t going to challenge or meet the type of talent pool that Gleneagle has,” added Maller.

“The [musical] that really struck me and would suit these students was West Side Story,” said Maller.

The musical theatre and theatre production groups are talented, and with such a demanding musical like West Side Story, it displays the true aptitude of these programs.

“We are all an ensemble. We work together, sing together, act together and all act as a unit,” said Ramirez.

“There were many [nights] where we stayed as late as 10 p.m. It was often frustrating to make time for theatre, but there are ups and downs to everything.” said Annie Yin, grade 10, lighting crew for the musical.

“Communication with each other is definitely key – when everyone is at odds with each other, it can get ugly, but we have those who have experienced this before and will solve the problem getting everyone to come together.” said Hailey Kuang, grade 10, sound tech for the show.

The connections made in theatre production and musical theatre keep the students motivated throughout practices.

“Luckily, all of that hard work comes with a lot of bonding, so by the time the show is ready to be put on, it’s almost like you’re doing it with family,” concluded Lalani.

West Side Story performances will be on April 30, May 1, 2, 8, 9, and 10, at 7pm. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $8 for students. A seasons pass, to go to all 6 West Side Story shows, is available for $60.