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KEEP COOL, BOY
18 September 2006
We went to the opening of West Side Story on Friday night, and when I woke up Saturday morning I had a burning desire to see the 1987 high school production of West Side Story. Some two years ago, I promised Paul's friend Carlos that I would make a copy of it for him. Now I was finally going to do it.
That show was a who's who of all of our kids' friends and it was interesting to read the cast list and think about what has become of the major players, many of whom continued on in various aspects of show business. (There may be many more than just those of whom I am aware who moved on into show business.)
The Davis Senior High School has the benefit of having an excellent music program. Most of the cast for this production came out of either the jazz choir or the madrigal choir (or both), and there was also a full orchestra for accompaniment.
The jazz choir (with which Paul performed for three years, and with which, later, Tom and David both performed) consisted of some 20 kids, 10 boys and 10 girls and their performances included both singing and dancing, so they had all the experience needed to make the dance numbers in this show work.
Paul played Riff in the high school production and was tickled that he got to do a death scene on stage. (Ironic, in retrospect.) Paul didn't have a great voice, but he compensated with his comfort and confidence on stage. He always took command of the characters he played and it was fun watching him do it again on videotape.
Carlos and Mauricio Mendoza, real-life twins, who played Tony and Bernardo, respectively, in West Side Story (Tony is the romantic lead, and Bernardo is the head of the rival gang) went on to do theatre in San Diego and have established The Hispanic Arts Theatre there. Carlos has done a lot of directing and choreography; Mauricio starred in the short-lived TV series, Resurrection Blvd, which followed the lives of a Hispanic family living in Los Angeles.
Romana Jaroff, who played Bernardo's girlfriend Anita, continues to perform and is also vice president and booking manager of the New York office of IMG Artists, representing the likes of Renee Fleming and Kiri Te Kanewa.
Rebecca Plack, who played Maria, the young girl who is the root of all the problems, is now a professional singer who has recorded in Italy, given operatic concert performances in Europe and this country, and has appeared in several musicals around the country.
Paul's best friend, Paul Kagiwada ("Kag"), who was a member of the Jets, and also designed the program for West Side Story now is a professional designer with a design company out of San Francisco.
Anthony Costello, who was another member of the Jets and who did publicity for the show, played percussion in Lawsuit and was its publicity manager.
Mark Inouye (pictured) and Steve Erickson were trumpeters in the band for West Side Story. Steve went on to be in Lawsuit and still plays when the group gets together. Mark now plays with the San Francisco symphony.
Dave Anderson, who played saxophone in Lawsuit, was also in the band for this show.
So many other familiar names that it brought back all sorts of memories watching it. I also wanted to find out if, 20 years later, that production was as good as I remember it in my mind. Fortunately, we have it on videotape.
It was delightful to discover that it was as good as I remembered.
Many times, when I review a musical, I become very nostalgic, remembering when our kids were involved with musical theatre (well, Jeri still is, but we don't often get to Boston to see any of the shows for which she plays!). Sometimes the stuff they did wasn't all that good, when I go back and see it again; other times it was quite good. It's nice when you remember something as being very special and then watch the video and realize that it really was.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is Journal entry #2363