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T he C oast News

AUG. 9, 2019

‘West Side Story’ set to play at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre By Alex Wehrung

VISTA — Coming to Vista is the musical that took Romeo and Juliet, plopped them in the 1950s and added a turf war between rival New York City gangs to their star-crossed romance. The enduring “West Side Story” is the upcoming show at Moonlight Stage Productions, the latest entry of its 39th summer season. West Side’s run will last from August 14-31. The beloved and enduring musical tells the tale of two members of a pair of warring rival New York City gangs—the white ‘Jets’ and the Puerto Rican ‘Sharks’—Tony and Maria.

They fall in love and sing their hearts out, but as this story is based on Shakespeare’s most infamous romance, strife lurks right around the street corner. “West Side Story” was born from the collective minds of director and choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright Arthur Laurents. It was nominated for six Tony Awards upon its debut on Broadway in 1957 and won two. Since then, the production has been revived numerous times for the stage and has also been adapted to film. Even Steven Spielberg has his own

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take on West Side, which will arrive in theaters next year. This particular show is being played in tribute to Harold “Hal” Prince, the producer of the Broadway production, who died at the age of 91 on July 31. Prince is noted for having essentially saved the original production by securing its finances, after the previous producer backed out over concerns regarding the musical’s tone. Prince won 21 Tonys over the course of his career, the most of anyone in history. The show stars Orange County High School of the Arts graduate Bella Gil as Maria, the sister of Sharks leader Bernardo. Gil has performed as the lead in Sweeney Todd, She Loves Me, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Secret Garden, Bye Bye Birdie, Follies, and Beauty and the Beast. Lending a tinge of authenticity, New York Citybased actor Michael James Byrne plays Tony, a former Jet. Byrne returns to the Moonlight Amphitheatre after portraying Chad in the 2015 show of All Shook Up. Byrne has also performed in leading roles locally with Mary Poppins, South Pacific, 42nd Street, and Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Taylor Simmons plays Riff, leader of the Jets. This run will mark Simmons’s sixth production of “West Side Story,” having

THE CAST of the upcoming “West Side Story” at Vista’s Moonlight Ampitheatre, from left to right: Michael James Byrne, Bella Gil, Taylor Simmons, Steven Glaudini, Hector Guerrero, Courtney Arango and Armando Eleazar. Courtesy photo

already played numerous other characters from the musical. Armando Eleazar will be making his Moonlight Amphitheatre debut as Sharks boss (and Maria’s brother) Bernardo— he will also be partaking in the Broadway revival of West Side later this year. Courtney Arango will also be making her Moonlight

debut as well, in the role of Anita. The show is being directed by Steven Glaudini, Moonlight’s Producing Artistic Director. He is working in cooperation with choreographer Hector Guerrero, who is endeavoring to match the original choreography of Jerome Robbins. Elan McMahan



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is directing the music and will conduct the 29-piece orchestra to bring Leonard Bernsetein’s original score to life. Tickets are on sale at, and are priced from $17 to $57, with discounts available for senior citizens, students and members of the military.

August roars in with the fire of Leo the Lion, celebrating passionate, generous and dramatic Leos. On August 2 messenger planet Mercury goes direct, a welcomed change for all matters of communications and travel. However, beware the “storm” period of Mercury retrograde, as normal speed will not resume until August 8. After that, proceed forward with gusto in travel plans, negotiations, contracts and all communications. On August 11, abundant planet Jupiter moves direct after a four month retrograde period. May luck, opportunity and expansion reign again! On the same day, Uranus stations retrograde until January 2020. Use this time to review all finances and be practical in terms of spending and saving. August 15 brings the Full Moon in Aquarius, a time of release, culmination and bringing matters to fruition. Use this less emotional Full Moon to balance your needs (Leo) with the needs of the group (Aquarius). Express your individuality while aligning with group goals (family, co-workers, clubs, all organizations). On August 23 the Sun enters Virgo, turning our attention from the carefree days of summer to the more structured, hardworking activities that lie ahead in the fall. Back from vacation, thoughts turn to work and a return to school and schedules. The New Moon in Virgo arrives on August 30, a perfect time to begin new positive health regimes, focus on the details and get organized for the busy fall ahead.

Québec, Bégin’s native language is French. She said Vision instructors must teach the language that is their mother tongue and that the preschool used a “playbased” educational model. “To learn before we’re 5 years old, everything happens before we’re 5 years old,” said Bégin. “Why? Because it’s play-based. So, even if they’re playing with someone that speaks Chinese and they’re language is French, the language is not words, it’s more what they’re doing together. So they will eventually understand each other.” Bégin believes that for those learning multiple languages, it’s the “younger the better” because the brain at that age is like an “empty drawer” in which information can be placed. “It’s really easy because they’re not shy like us,” Bégin said. “If I’m trying to make you say some words in French, you might feel more self-conscious. For them, it’s easy and they almost have no accent whatsoever. And there’s a lot of studies that prove that.” Beyond its 23 locations that serve 3,000 children in Quebec, Vision has preschools in Morocco, Senegal and Ukraine. Tuition at Vision will cost $15,080 per school year for students who attend five days per week, $8,905 for those who attend three days a week and $6,175 for those who go to days a week.

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The Coast News, August 9, 2019  

The Coast News, August 9, 2019