Stage Right students tackle ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘West Side Story’ |

Stage Right students tackle ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘West Side Story’

Candy Williams
Photos: Submitted
Stage Right teens featured in “West Side Story,” and their schools, are, from left: Grace Rusnica and Anthony Marino, both of Hempfield; Ben Federico of Latrobe; Cynsere Stevens of Jeannette, and Angel Morante of Penn Trafford.
Photos: Submitted
Stage Right preteens featured in “Into the Woods,” and their schools, include: Garrett Seymour, Kiski; Aleena Martin, Blairsville; Gia Petrazio, Latrobe; Elena Padezanin, Franklin Regional; Joey Estok, Latrobe; Grace Paulovich, Norwin; Wesley Heverly, Greensburg Salem, and Lucy Cramer, Latrobe.

It’s show time for more than 100 preteen and teen musical theater students at Stage Right School for the Performing Arts in Greensburg as the school year draws to a close.

Tony Marino, Stage Right artistic director and acting instructor, is pushing the two groups to give their best effort for their end-of-year shows being held for the first time in Westmoreland County Community College’s Science Hall auditorium on the Youngwood campus.

He says the two musicals they’re performing are a challenge.

“It’s our high school musical, final recital and final project, so we want it to be hard,” he says.

The preteen group (ages 8-12) will stage three performances of James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” May 31-June 2.

The teens (ages 13-18) will perform the Arthur Laurents/Leonard Bernstein/Jerome Robbins/Sondheim modern-day “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story,” for three shows June 1-2.

Preteens’ popular choice

“Into the Woods” offers a retelling of classic Brothers Grimm fables and was a favorite choice of students, Marino says.

“With ‘West Side,’ it’s all about the dancing and the difficulty of music,” he adds. “Renata (Marino) is looking to recreate as much of the original Jerome Robbins stuff as possible, but as we tell the kids, ‘This show is just about as iconic as it gets. You’re going to do it again if you do this in the future; you have the chance to learn something now. Take advantage of that.”

Triple cast shows

Each of the major roles in both musicals have been triple cast, Tony says, to showcase the talents of more students.

He is directing “West Side Story” and Renata is directing “Into the Woods” and choreographing both shows. Musical directors are Chris McAllister for the teens show and Hazel Braun for the preteens; Hannah Liotta is stage manager.

Stage Right is presenting the musicals at WCCC for its big stage and large backstage area to accommodate the large number of students and props, Tony says. Last year the student shows were performed at Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.

“In addition, we have a working relationship with WCCC where we provide professional technical theater people to consult on the space and to help make it become a premiere performance space. We’ll be performing there regularly as well,” he says.

‘Best of all worlds’

The addition of the community college to Stage Right’s venues – which also include the Palace Theatre in Greensburg and the Lamp Theatre in Irwin – is “the best of all worlds when it comes to performance spaces,” Tony says.

“The Palace is absolutely a diamond, the Lamp is like a small off-Broadway theater and with WCCC and GGCC we have two spaces that have great locations and facilities,” he says, “plus all the organizations that run these spaces believe in what we do. That is a gift.”

Besides the teens and preteens that will be showcasing their talents in the two musical productions, 28 4-7-year-olds in Stage Right’s Imagination Workshop will be featured in “Rainbow Fish” at WCCC.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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