NORTH BETHESDA – Since William Shakespeare first wrote “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” around 1593, the play about the ill-fated romance between two young people from feuding noble families in Verona, Italy has been adapted into many different settings for stage and screen productions.
Next month, a local group will give area students the opportunity to perform in a unique production of the classic tale.
Young Artists of America at Strathmore, an educational association affiliated with the Music Center at Strathmore, will present “West Side Story + Romeo et Juliette,” a synthesis of French composer Charles-Francois Gounod’s nineteenth century opera and Leonard Bernstein’s long-running Broadway play, which updates the setting of the play to New York City where the lovers are members of rival street gangs. Songs from both works will be used to present the entire story in 90 minutes.
The French songs will be sung by professional opera singers, tenor Marco Cammarota and soprano Melissa Wimbish, while local students will perform the “West Side Story” songs. Local performers in the piece include Blake student Adalia Jiminez, who plays Anita, and Good Counsel student Hailey Giddings, who plays Maria.
“When I was 5, I was always singing around the house, and my mother didn’t know what to do with me, so she put me in theater, and I’ve loved it ever since,” said Jiminez, who has performed the national anthem at Washington Nationals games.
“A lot of people in my family are musicians, so I’ve always been around music,” Giddings said. “It’s only in the last few years that I’ve really started to get into it and I enjoy it a lot.”
Jiminez and Giddings both expressed their appreciation for the professionalism and of the Young Artists of America cast and crew.
“Adalia and Hailey are some of the best young singers in the area,” said Young Artists of America artistic director Rolando Sanz. “We’re really fortunate that we pull such talent from the entire DC area. Some kids drive an hour and a half to rehearse. I think that’s a testament to this program and to the students feeling like they’re part of something worthwhile.”
“West Side Story + Romeo et Juliette” will be performed one night only on Sunday, March 8, at 4:00 pm. Tickets and more information may be found at www.youngartistsamerica.org.