Red Deer Public School District

Lindsay Thurber students to stage Broadway classic

The curtain is set to open at Lindsay Thurber High School as they stage West Side Story this weekend.

The sold-out show runs March 3-4 and March 7-10 in the school’s drama room.

West Side Story is an award-winning adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. The feuding families of Shakespeare’s play are now represented as two rival New York City gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, fighting for territory and respect. While their hatred for each other escalates, Tony, a former Jet, and the younger sister of the Shark gang leader Bernardo, Maria, fall in love at a dance. Is the love affair between Tony and Maria doomed?

“I love West Side Story. I think it’s the best musical ever. I’ve been really afraid to direct it because I haven’t felt confident enough as a director. I’ve been at Lindsay Thurber for 11 years and this will be the fifth show that I have directed here,” said Tara Koett, Director of West Side Story and Teacher at Lindsay Thurber High School. “It felt really timely - the world is becoming more divisive and a lot of hatred has been brought to light over the years. This message is from 1957, but even then it’s based on Romeo and Juliet which is over 400 years old and the message and themes are still relevant.”

With upwards of 70 students involved in the show, Koett said they have tackled the production head on.

“It’s a really demanding show musically - it’s so challenging. Our band students are playing some of the hardest music. They have really stepped it up. There are a lot of dance requirements in the show and our dance captain has been so dedicated in working with her cast. The students have worked tirelessly.”

Ultimately Koett said it has been great to see how far the students have come since September, when they initially started rehearsing for the show.

“The ownership these kids have taken is amazing and for many of them it’s their first musical,” she said. “For their first musical to be this monster of a show, it can be daunting, but they have pulled through and they have bought into the message. It has been beautiful.”