Directors of West Side Story


Mr. Murray ~

~What is your favorite part about the show?

The music.  The music is just so much fun and vibrant and tells a story.

~ Who has helped you and Mr. Krack with the show?

Mr. Hamill, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Gallick , Ms. Conley, Mr. Huttenlock, and the crew and Mr. Baughman who helped backstage. 

~ What was the most challenging aspect of the musical?

Everything.  Musically, the ranges are high, the rhythm is hard, the meters change every other measure, the choreography is incredibly hard, primarily because of the rhythms and feeling that, the fact that we did ballet basically in the whole dream ballet sequence.  The acting was hard because it is such a dramatic show.  So you can’t pinpoint anything that was specifically hard, because everything was hard.  There wasn’t anything that was simple about the show, in any aspect.   

~ As a whole, how did the musical come together? 

I thought it was awesome, as a whole.  Anything that we were worried about we didn’t have to be.  Putting the music together wasn’t a concern because once we started getting together on that [first dress rehearsal together] Monday night, it was like, oh this is going to be cool!  And the choreography, the kids put so much time into it on their own, practicing on their own in the hallways and making things better, it was awesome.

~ What would you have done differently with the show?

Did another performance.  I wish that it wasn’t over as quickly as it was.  After all of the work that goes into it, and then you do two shows and ok, we’re done.  And it would have been neat to do maybe a third show, or another weekend, or something, to give everyone the opportunity to perform one more time.  But as far as casting, or anything else goes, no. 

Mr. Krack ~

~ Why did you and Mr. Murray choose West Side Story as the musical?

Every year we like to choose something that is going to be a challenge for the student and for ourselves.  So that the students can grow if we do something challenging.

~ Was it difficult choosing the cast?

Yes, extremely difficult.  It’s always difficult because you have to take, not just the actors abilities, but you also have to take into consideration how they work with the other cast members.  How it’s going to fit.  It’s not just on their abilities and their talents, but also their chemistry together on stage and it has to be just right.

~ Why did you cast yourself and Mr. LoCasio in the show?

I cast myself and Mr. LoCasio in the show because we needed so many boys for the Jets and the Sharks; I wanted all of our boys to be either a jet or a shark, because we needed those parts to be filled.  Also the Jets and the Sharks got more stage time so I wanted to give those kids more stage time.  He [Mr. LoCasio] was so dedicated, I know how busy he is, but he was so dedicated.  He said, whenever you need me, tell me and I’ll be there.  I will do whatever you need me to do.  And he did.  He did a great job. 

~ If you could change one thing about the show and the prep for it, what would it be?

 I wouldn’t change anything.  I think we were well rehearsed, I think the orchestra and the cast members and the crew really knocked it out of the park.

~ For being such a difficult show, how do you feel the students did?

Incredibly well.

~ How common is it for a high school to do west side story?

Not very common, I have several friends who direct musicals for high schools and they all said I would never do west side story with the students.  [Because of the difficulty of the show]  Especially with the pit, it is difficult music to sing and even more difficult to play. 

Mr. Jordan ~

~ What is your favorite part about the show west side story?

My favorite part of West Side Story obviously has to be the score.  All the music by Bernstein.   

~ What was the greatest challenge with this musical?

I think the difficulty of the music itself in the score.  The pit did an excellent job; the students did a great job and stepped up.  Because like I said, it’s not easy.  My thought is that if you do that particular score and you can play it fairly well, you can play most shows.

~ How well do you feel everything fit together with the pit?

I think the fact that we scheduled the number of rehearsals that we did was key to making – I think – the success that the pit was.  I think if we would have had less rehearsals, like we did last year for Beauty and the Beast, I think it would have come together, but I don’t think it would have been as good as it had actually turned out to be.  So they key was the number of rehearsals. 

~ What went into the hiring process of the professional musicians to perform the play?

The thinking was to have a student pit with professionals in a side by side experience so that the students would have the opportunity to learn from the professionals, and to also obviously enhance the pit because we are talking about one of the hardest scores to play for a musical.

~ Where did you find the professional musicians?

Well it was a variety of things; some of the musicians were back from last year.  Some of them were networked from musicians that we had last year. 

~ How did you determine what student musicians should play?

The thought process behind that was, again with the difficulty of the score, was that the students would have parts that, one, they could handle, and the professionals would have the parts obviously that were a little more technical. 

~ If you could change one thing about your work with the musical this year what would it be?

I would like, and this is something that I am thinking for the future, I would like greater student involvement.  We still need professionals obviously for a show like West Side Story, but you don’t need that number of professionals every single show you do.  I think in the future, the ideal situation would be, still have a few professional musicians but have the pit actually be made up of current students, or even, I think it would be great to have Alumni come back as well.  I think it would create a better sense of community and not just in our department, but in the school. 

~ What are you planning on doing differently next year? 

“My thought is this, as much of the involvement that I have in the senior high, being in this building, I would like to network with as many students as possible.  I think that whoever is in the senior high, in this case Mr. Hamill, I think it is fortunate because he has the opportunity to work with you guys daily and actually talk to you guys about those things.  But, my plan would be to have more student involvement next year, and just keep building from that, until we have a pit that is more students and less professionals overall.  I think that is the best message to send.”