West Side Story: ‘Bridging the Gap’

In “a society that is as hard and unforgiving as concrete or brick” it is the “eternal belief that through such suffering and loss, ‘someday, somehow, somewhere’… the bricks may begin to crumble.” This is the message of the classic, West Side Story, according to its director, professor Jerry Cohagan.

Brought to the stage by 37 stage members, this play is a tragedy based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“It is a story that is continually retold, whether it be in Romeo and Juliet, or whether it be found in today’s voices shouting about building a wall to keep others out, or chanting in our own streets that ‘Black Lives Matter.’Our world seems so polarized,” Cohagan wrote in his Note from the Director.

A main theme of the play is tolerance and accepting differences in others. West Side Story illustrates how we can “bridge the gap” between our differences and “leaves us with hope for a better world.”

Cohagan added: “I think we need to begin to respect that which we don’t understand, and we can begin by loving people.”

The director hopes that everyone leaves the show entertained, but also moved to make a difference, and that the audience would recognize the outsiders in their lives, who could even be their neighbor.

The theatre department last produced West Side Story in the spring of 2007. With this year’s play, Cohagan said, “we had a unique situation arise.” Cinderella was supposed to be the spring play this semester, but could not be because of a licensing issue.

Tickets can be purchased online at olivet.edu/tickets or by calling 815- 939-5110. The play will be shown Feb. 25, 26, and 27 at 7 p.m. On Feb. 27, there is also a 2 p.m. showing.

“Get ‘em early,” Cohagen said. “Last year we sold out and had to turn people away.”

Lauren Stancle, Assistant Editor


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