West Side Story


The classic musical West Side Story will be performed at the Stadium from February 16 – 18. Mike Daniels and Grace Cuellar star as  Tony and Maria, who fall in love among the gang warfare of the Jets and the Sharks in New York City. Daniels previously starred as Johnny in the Green Day rock opera American Idiot. Tony is a far cry from that role, according to Daniels.

“(Tony) is really hopeful,” Daniels said. “He’s a lot more of a positive character than some of the other characters. It’s an honor to play him.”

Playing such an iconic role has been “a challenge, but in the best way possible,” Daniels explained. “It’s challenged me to expand my musical theater horizons.”

The music is by legendary composers Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The songs include “Tonight,” “Maria,” “America,” “One Hand, One Heart” and “Somewhere.”

Daniels has a lot of admiration for Cuellar, who he calls “incomparable.”

“I really love how Maria develops during the show,” Cuellar said. “She starts off gentle in Act One and then takes a stand against the violence and discrimination in Act Two. When tragedy strikes, that’s when you see her true passion and emotion come out.”

Cuellar is excited to be acting out her first lead role in a musical. He previously appeared in productions of Mary Poppins and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Working on West Side Story has been a dream come true, Cuellar said. “Everyone has been so welcoming. At the end of the show, we’ve all become one big family.”

Cuellar believes the affection from audiences for West Side Story has to do with the characters and their emotions.

“It’s a very strong love story,” Cuellar said, adding that West Side Story features a powerful message that “love conquers all.”

West Side Story has just as much relevance for today’s audiences as the show did when it premiered 60 years ago, Daniels said, particularly regarding issues of race, socio-economics and gender identity.

“It touches on the themes that are going on in our society today,” Daniels added.

West Side Story runs February 16-18. The Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket. stadiumtheatre.com



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