DIRECTOR THOMAS TIMES
SUNNYVALE, CA --Sunnyvale Community Players is thrilled to celebrate the return to in-person performances with a creative presentation of the masterful musical WEST SIDE STORY where Shakespeare's characters of Romeo and Juliet from his Romantic tragedy of the same name, are transported from Venice, Italy of the 1300, 1400, or 1500 centuries, to New York City in the l950's, and this time, mpersonated by Tony, a Pollack boy, and Maria, a Puerto Rican girl, both living in the West Side of the city, a barrio of middle class people where on a day to day basis, are fights between the The Sharks, the Puerto Rican gang, and The Jets, the Americans' gang. The neighborhood of poor New Yorkers where families are tryin to earn their living and teenagers are struggling to survive without parents supervision. And because they practically live on the streets, they cause trouble. Because of it, the West Side is a place often visited by policemen because of street fights, a neighborhood where the Americans have a lot of hatred for the Puerto Ricans, because they feel that they invaded their turf and they fight to defend it, beat each insult other and then go home. But this changes on day, when after a knife fight, a boy dies.
With the book written by Arthur Laurents, the music score by Leonard Bernstein and the Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, as a musical WEST SIDE STORY is widely regarded as among the best musicals ever written. This new production, will give those unfamiliar with the musical the opportunity to see the reasons why.
To give our readers a preview of the preparation that went into this new production of the multi Awards winning Musical which included Best Picture in l962, Cultural World Bilingual interviewed THOMAS TIMES, who is going to direct the Sunnyvale Community Players performances of WEST SIDE STORY, that will open on September 11 at the Sunnyvale Theatre. Thomas introduces himself as: Director, Writer, Teacher and actor.
C.W.B. What attracted you to theater?
C.W.B: How did you make the transition from actor to director?"
C.W.B. Based on your experience, what can you tell us about theater?
C.W.B. changing the subject from acting to directing, as Director of this Musical, what is your concept of West Side Story?
T.T."I define WEST SIDE STORY as a show who is super-classic and as a show who is super-meaningful, especially at this time. Some of the scenes that I will be presenting in our version of WEST SIDE STORY are super-relevant to our time. Probable, more important now than they were before."
C.W.B. So you don't believe that showing a show like WEST SIDE STORY today may rekindle the racial hatred from Americans to Latinos?
T.T. "Are you asking me if WEST SIDE STORY is a good show to present right Now.
Thomas ponders for a few seconds before answering.
T.T. "I say yes. I believe that WEST SIDE STORY is the most important show to do right now. "
C.W.B. As a Director, how are you going to handle the race problem in the show?
T.T. "The first way for me to handle the race problem in the show was to be sure that the cast was appropriate. Puerto Ricans are Afro-Latino, so I was sure that every actor on the Puerto Rican side, will identify the Latinos with the Blacks to represent The Sharks (the name of the Puerto Rican Gang). Everybody else in the cast, I put it in The Jets (the name of the American's gang) so, in this show, The Jets are not all white because they represent America. We have lots of Asian Americans in their group with the Caucasian actors. We have a very diverse cast in which I am trying to represent not only the time in the show, but the culture represented in the show."
C.W.B. As a director, did you select the cast?
WEST SIDE STORY is Produced by Steve Shapiro, Kevin Surace and Marcie Shapiro, and Directed by Thomas Times, Music Director Kevin Surace, Choreographer Marcie Shapiro, and Vocal Director Mary Carroll.
"And dare I say that the world of 2021 needs WEST SIDE STORY more than ever before. Through the lens of l950s New York, we witness a love story that is doomed to fail because the system of oppression in place believes where you were born determines who you can love, what you can do, and who you can be. Hopefully we can learn from the missteps and mistakes of the people in our story, to develop a better world for those who are coming after us. "
WEST SIDE STORY will play at the Sunnyvale Theatre within the Sunnyvale Community Center: 550 East Remington Drive, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 until October 3, 2020. For tickets and information go online to https://www.sunnyvaleplayers.org/ .