Wednesday, April 20, 2016

West Side Story Article

Hatfield Hall stage veteran and classically trained vocalist Samantha Staszak plays Maria, in Rose Drama Club's production of "West Side Story."

In the nearly 60 years since its first Broadway opening, the tale of forbidden romance and gangster rivalry featured in "West Side Story" has been a favorite of audiences around the world. Now, the finger-snapping musical drama will come to life April 22-24, 29-30 in Rose-Hulman's Hatfield Hall.

The final Rose Drama Club production of the season, "West Side Story" is set in 1950s New York City. As the show begins, tensions between two teenage street gangs from different ethnic backgrounds are near the boiling point.

The Jets, a white gang led by Riff, resent the encroaching Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. When Riff's best friend and former Jet, Tony, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks' leader, Bernardo, the stage is set for this modern twist on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

"West Side Story" is the final Rose Drama Club performance for seniors Jonathan Jungck and Samantha Staszak, two veteran faces on the Hatfield Hall stage.

Jungck, who will graduate with a degree in software engineering, brings energy and dazzling dance skill to the role of Riff. "West Side Story" marks the fifth production for the San Francisco-area native, following performances in "Les Miserables" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

"'West Side Story' is more than an idealized Shakespearean love story," Jungck observed. "It depicts a very real narrative of the treatment of immigrants in early modern America. The Jets and the Sharks aside, the show touches on the most basic human question: what makes someone an immigrant or an outsider?"

The role of Maria features Staszak, who is set to graduate with a degree in computer science. She began formal vocal training at the age of 12, competed in classical competitions while in high school and performed in Carnegie Hall as a part of the American High School Honors Performance Series.

"First of all, I absolutely love this music in this show. Bernstein and Sondheim created a brilliant score," she said. "I also love how powerful this story is. It takes Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' and thrusts it into a more modern context that we as a society can relate to in many ways."

Tickets for all shows are $20 for adults and $15 for youths. Patrons may purchase tickets at or in person at the Hatfield Hall ticket office or by calling 812-877-8544 Tuesday through Friday, from 11 5 p.m. The ticket office is also open two hours before each performance. Tickets and complete show information are available at