If you have absolutely no idea what I’m singing about, then you are a very misinformed audience, and I must provide you with a lesson: Broadway 101. This is the Romeo and Juliet of our time (not Leonardo and Claire), the Sharks and Jets, the Shakespeare of our time woven into song and dance. West Side Story is in town, and it is a magnificent production, all the more impressive because the performers are the exact same Broadway cast that began the show.
What does that mean? Movements are more refined, speech perfected, and the performance made ever more passionate with the familiarity of time. West Side Story is truly a show and performance one cannot forget, nor forgo. Think was lucky enough to get to pickle the minds of the faces behind the dazzlers of Tony and Maria, not quite star-crossed lovers, but crossed just the same.
THINK: Do you find that the way you view, and performed your roles now is different to when you first took it on?
Josh Young (Tony): I think nothing has changed in how I viewed the role from the time I began rehearsals. But yes, the way I perform the role has changed a bit. Not so much in the embodiment of the character of Tony but in the more youthful voice I’ve adapted for the role. Tony is a fresh young teenager, while I’m 25. I was talking to my brother Doug (18 years old, same age as Tony) a few weeks into our run and I noticed a youthful energy and exuberance in his speech that I feel is often lost as we age. I began trying to really work that into my scenes and into the songs.
Kirsten Rossi (Maria): Yes, the way I perform the character of Maria is very different now to when I first started. I understand her better now, where she comes from and why she is looking to feel something greater than she does in the beginning of the show. The character of Maria has settled into my heart and it comes from a place of Love and Hope and hard work. I try to be spontaneous when I am onstage as well, never knowing what to expect, being confident enough to perform a great show through any circumstance.
THINK: Is it difficult to have to perform the roles of ballet, dance and song all at once?
Josh Young (Tony): Tony & Maria have very few dance requirements. But from past experience, yes… very hard for me. Let me just say that it would seem, to the dancers we have in the show, that dancing and singing is second nature and comes as naturally as speaking and walking would to anyone else. They have to be seen to be believed.
Kirsten Rossi (Maria): Some of the movements I had to do was challenging at first, but with practice, it became a part of me. It is always a challenge to act while singing. Sometimes people get caught up in singing when they are in a show and forget what they are actually singing about. Everything on stage has to come from within yourself and it will all come together.
THINK: What do you think West Side Story can tell the audience of today?
Josh Young (Tony): West side tells a timeless story of possibilities. The possibility of light out of the darkness, peace out of war and love from within a world of hate. It does this through some of the most beautiful song, dance and acting the world has ever seen. The fact that West Side Story is so entertaining may be what gets people in the seats but I think they leave with so much more than just the fulfillment of having been entertained.
Kirsten Rossi (Maria): West Side Story is a timeless, classic musical. The reason it comes so highly acclaimed is because of its theme. Love can surpass anything. Discrimination and Hate is still going on in the world today. People can relate to both of these. West Side Story can be played in any country, language and time period and it would still be effective because it is universal. West Side Story speaks to your heart, whether you are 17 or 70…it’s a show you’ll always remember.