Youth Musical Theatre's 'West Side Story' in El Cerrito

(KGO)
July 11, 2012 5:42:10 PM PDT
The musical classic "West Side Story" is coming to the stage in El Cerrito for two weekends in a production featuring mostly teenagers who are gaining professional experience.The caliber of their performances may surprise you.

The Romeo and Juliet story is being presented by the Youth Musical Theatre Company of Berkeley. "They're really not doing theatre that is good in spite of being young. They're doing theatre that is great because they are young," says Artistic Director Jennifer Boesing. She's brought together professional musicians, actors, and staff to inspire the company of 7th graders to university level.

And, it is serious business. "The discipline is intense. Sometimes it's like being in the Olympics, these kids say," Boesing says. "It's like working with people who are really dedicated and talented, and know so much, and treat us like we're professionals, not like we're really young actors," says 15-year-old Celeste Kamiya.

What happens there is an opportunity. The kids had to audition to get a part. 17-year-old Octavio Hingle started with the company in the 7th grade. He just graduated from high school. "Coming in being able to be with these older teenagers who were such professional actors, it was really inspirational. It's great to come back now and have that reverse mentor-mentee role with them," he says.

Youth Musical Theatre has raised the ante and the level, providing quality theatre for the public and fulfilling dreams and direction for the young performers.

In El Cerrito for two weekends, these young actors hope someday for a place of their own. "We would love to find a permanent home," Boesing says. "It's actually one of our really big dreams."


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