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      West Side Story comes to Escanaba

      The ill-fated tragedy of Romeo and Juliet has been adapted into many plays and musicals, but none more famous than that of West Side Story. The musical drama features memorable songs, characters, and a familiar theme of love and heartbreak. The Escanaba Fine Arts Department is putting the finishing touches on the musical. It features a 42-member cast, 12 songs, and a 26-member orchestra.

      The story is one that's sure to delight audiences of all ages. The plot is set in 1950s New York, when Jets member Tony, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the rival gang's leader.

      â??The very first scene is the prologue,â?? says P.J. Uhazie, who plays Bernardo. â??And it's where they play through an intro, and you get to see the two different gangs feuding. And it's a really big dance number and there's stage fighting. Itâ??s really exciting!"

      The cast has been rehearsing for months, and it's the only musical of the year. There are two acts, and thereâ??s a lot of emotion packed into them.

      â??Everything in it is intense,â?? says Samuel Bender, who plays Tony. â??From the music in the pit to the music we're singing to the dance we're doing to the acting and emotion required for the role."

      So how do the cast members feel about sharing their passion?

      â??I know out of all the years Iâ??ve done this, this is the one Iâ??ve enjoyed the most and the one I take the most pride in. I hope the audience will reciprocate that," Uhazie says.

      Tickets are still available at the Escanaba High School main office. West Side Story runs November 16, 17, 19, and 20 at 8 p.m.