Representing the West Side

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Matthew Leight-The Corsair


The classic recreation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has arrived here in Pensacola and will be featured at our Ashmore Auditorium compliments of  the Pensacola State College Theatre Department.  Under the direction of Mr. Rodney Whatley, a cast comprised of approximately half students and half community members, will be presenting their interpretation of the West Side Story.

It is a story of naive youth and forbidden love.  Taking place in New York City, two lovers find themselves amidst a deadly gang rivalry.  It is a star-crossed lovers’ fight to overcome the adversity of hate, prejudice, and violence that has made this story a success on both stage and screen.  It also features music from the legendary Leonard Bernstein.

When asked about the significance of this play in particular, Mr. Whatley said, “The great thing about the play is it shows that with sacrifice, progress relating to prejudice and race relations can be made.”

He said, “It was universal during Shakespeare’s time, it was relevant during the 1950’s and it is still relevant now.”

“I was amazed when I first read the script at some of the things I was hearing on the nightly news about the immigration debate in our country right now.” Mr. Whatley proceeded to correlate these current events with the plot of the West Side Story.

“I can wait to see this show!” He said.

He went on to say that he has been either a theatre goer or director  for over 33 years and never has he been this excited to see any one performance.

“It’s gonna be that good!” said Mr. Whatley.

He proceeded to humbly disclaim that its success was not going to be of his own doing, but instead that of the “brilliant cast and crew.”  He wanted to inform people that the original purpose of theatre was not one relating nobility or profit, but instead to come together as a community and “celebrate life.”

While tickets to the main performances are free, he encouraged students to come out on Thursday, November 11th .  This will be the final dress rehearsal and a “student only” showing. Reminiscent of the original purpose of theatre, he said that on this date one could experience the beauty of the West Side Story with their Pensacola State College community of  peers.  According to director, it would make the musical much more meaningful. There will be 314 seats will be available for this performance.

“If you haven’t experienced live theatre, you should!” He said.

If you wish to attend a formal showing, one free ticket will be available per student.  There will be at least six performances held between November 12th -14th , including matinee and evening performances. For further information, stop by the box office in Ashmore Auditorium.

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