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West Side Story set to hit stage at UTEP; Current, former EPISD’ers involved

West Side Story — Jerome Robbins’ classic take on Romeo and Juliet in New York City — will be brought to life on the UTEP Dinner Theater stage this fall thanks in large part to the talents of current and former EPISD students and employees.

With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by the legendary Stephen Sondheim, West Side story tells the love story between Tony, a former member of the white Jets gang, and Maria, a young Puerto Rican ingénue whose brother is the leader of the rival Sharks.

Twelve people with ties to the El Paso Independent School District are part of the cast and crew.

“We are proud of current and past students and applaud the fact that they are performing at a high level outside of the classroom,” EPISD Director of Fine Arts Michael Phillips said. “It is also great that our teachers are modeling active learning, community engagement, a commitment to their craft and continued development of their skills.”

El Paso High 2012 graduate Hugo Arreola plays the love-stricken Tony, the leading male role.

“It’s really exciting and awesome. I have been wanting to play the role of Tony for about six years,” Arreola said. “What really speaks to me about him is he is growing into himself and learning what he wants to do, and through this journey he also falls in love.”

Coronado High student Emma Helsten is using her four years of dance experience to really embrace the spirit of the production and her first full musical performance.

“My experience so far has been great,” Helsten said. “The cast and crew is so talented, and I feel honored to be performing with them. I have always sang the songs and loved the dance numbers, and now that I actually get to be in it is such an amazing experience.”

EPISD students are not the only ones getting into the action. Coronado High School dance instructor Josey Mitchell is working closely with the cast as the choreographer. Mitchell has been part of UTEP’s Dinner Theater since her high-school years and has performed and worked with the staff for more than 24 of its productions.

“It is iconic show and every choreographer dreams of having such an opportunity,” Mitchell said. “I am swelling with pride to have so many of my own students and colleagues in this production. It really speaks to the talent we have here in our city and the power the arts have to unite people from all walks of life, generation to generation and not just for a school year but for the rest of our lives.”

Other members of the EPISD family participating in the show are:

Jensen Springer, Coronado student
Alvaro Callejas, Coronado student
Jorge Blakely, Franklin student
Doris Velez, Chapin student activities manager
Gladys Ferrari, El Paso dance instructor
Sebastian Orozco, Franklin graduate
Katy Harding, Franklin graduate
John Levick, Coronado graduate
Philip Bull, Coronado graduate
David Morgan, Coronado graduate

The show opens Friday Oct. 9 and runs through Nov. 1.  For more information and ticket information, call 915-747-5234.

Author: El Paso ISD

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