Theater: San Mateo High takes on ‘West Side Story’

The famous love story of an American boy and a Puerto Rican girl set against the backdrop of clashing street gangs in New York remains true to its Shakespearean “Romeo and Juliet” model. Of course, the show is “West Side Story”; a new production by San Mateo High School comes to the stage Feb. 1-3 and Feb. 8-10.

The musical, featuring a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, combines drama, opera and ballet. It’s a classic tragedy in a modern setting.

Senior Matt Petromilli plays Tony. He calls the character an honest, sincere youth, full of life, with a bubbly personality.

“As a guy who means what he says, Tony is very committed to his friends and those close to him,” Petromilli says. “I also love my friends and people close to me. It’s cool to play a teenager my same age.” He finds his biggest hurdle is transforming from an optimistic and excitable person to a more somber young adult, facing difficult situations and emotions.

Jennifer Brissman, 16, plays Maria, whom she describes as a wide-eyed, naive teenwho just arrived in the country. She says, “Similar to Maria, I have a positive outlook on life, also liking excitement. I find both the Puerto Rican accent as well as the meter libretto challenging. Bernstein didn’t give much room for breathing.”

“This is one of the toughest musicals. We are working with the original choreography from Jerome Robbins’ manual, providing great challenge for both musicians and singers,” he says. “Since the show celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007, we hope the community will see our production as alive and vibrant, being pertinent to today’s world.”

Assisting Friedman are Robyn and Attilio Tribuzi and Shawn Reifschneider.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call (650) 558-2375 or visit www.smhsdrama.org.

‘Secret Love’ Benefit concert

Doris Day sang beautiful songs from the big band era to Broadway and movies; Colla Voce, a men’s ensemble dedicated to singing for charitable efforts, presents a concert of her tunes called “Secret Love” at 4 p.m. Feb. 3.

The program features great arrangements of heartwarming selections that pay tribute to Day’s talent and appeal.

The show is a benefit for the Performing Arts for Youth Society, which offers opera, theater and musical performances to San Mateo County children who might not otherwise be exposed to the arts. Tickets are $20. The performance is at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton Ave. Visit www.colla-voce.org or call (650) 342-3933.

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