Heights High production of "West Side Story" showcases top-notch talent of area youth

I had the honor of attending the Height’s High production of Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story" on November 7 and 9. I came to the show to support my son in his first performance. My son attends Oxford Elementary School and was a member of the choir. The choir provided vocals for “America” and “One Hand, One Heart.” I came expecting to see the typical high school play, what I saw was a Broadway quality production.

I work in the Military. As such, my nomadic lifestyle has allowed me to live all over this great nation. I have always been fond of attending plays. I have seen Broadway and off-Broadway productions. What the high school did was nothing less than spectacular! The orchestra was superb, the vocals were pitch perfect, and the acting was first rate. I was especially fond of the players who filled the roles of Tony, Maria, Bernardo and Doc. These fine people did more than act as players in their roles, they became them. In essence, their acting, singing and costumes teleported us all to 1950’s New York. Tony’s rendition of “Something's Coming” and the duet of Maria and Tony in “Tonight” were nothing less than Oscar worthy performances. It was poetry in motion.

After the play was complete, and after a 10 minute standing ovation, I was surprised to see the large cast of supporters who made the production possible. As the director said, “It takes a village.” It seemed like there were hundreds of parents and others dedicated to the arts on hand. These folks sacrificed their time and worked almost as tirelessly as the cast in ensuring everything was just right. The pageantry of the moment, the realistic costumes, the stage design and the meticulous nature of getting a hundred and one things to sync must have been a Herculean task for the director, cast and crew. It was the best $40 I have ever spent.

The director left us with a message about the next generation of Americans: We often read or hear about kids who are not doing the right things. It is an odd custom that we judge entire generations by the most mislead young men and women. However, it was self-evident we lucky few saw some of the very best of then next generation. I am certain we are leaving the care of our future in very capable hands. It was, and will be, Cleveland Height’s finest hour (or at least until next year’s production).

Michael Zapawa is a 12-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard who moved to Cleveland Heights in July 2008.  As a military member, he moves every four years.  He moved to the Heights expecting to find a house and nothing else, but what he found here was a home and a community that he quickly grew to love. 

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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 9:13 AM, 11.10.2008