'West Side Story' Comes to K.C.

Broadway Across America is bringing another classic show to the Music Hall this week: West Side Story opens Tuesday, April 5, and runs through Sunday, April 10.
This production, directed by Arthur Laurents, is re-created for the tour by David Saint, the associate director on Broadway. I had the opportunity to chat with actor Stephen DeRosa, who plays Glad Hand. DeRosa's credits include Hairspray and Henry IV on Broadway, many productions Off-Broadway and in regional theater, a guest spot on Ugly Betty, and a regular role on the first season of Boardwalk Empire on HBO.
Good morning! How is the tour going so far?
It's really fun! We started in Detroit for a month, then we went to San Francisco for a month before we started the weekly tour. It can be difficult because we don't get a break. But they're amazing, and we all get along really well. It's nice being in a different city every week. We try to get out and get to know the town a little bit. This is a great show.
What made you decide to go on a touring show?
Well, I haven't been on Broadway for four years, so I was a definitely recessed by the recession. So this was my stimulus package. But I do a lot of regional theater, as most actors do. But I was working in Jersey at a place run by David Saint -- who is Arthur Laurents' protege -- who directed the tour. So I was recommended for West Side Story. I didn't have to go through the entire audition process like the kids did. I don't sing or dance in this one, so as a character actor, this job is a dream come true.
Was it a hard audition process for them?
Oh, yes! They had to go through a lot of hoops. You know, sing four different times, dance three or four different times. And you have to dance. Usually dancers are cast and they can't sing or act, but this cast is good at all three. They never cease to amaze me. They all have so many skills.
How do you think West Side Story is still able to capture people's attention today?
Well, I think that the score and dancing are so perfect that it really is one of the closest things to a masterpiece. It is timeless. So for this production, some edge has been added. And the Spanish language has been added as well, into about 10 percent of the show.
Will people who don't speak Spanish be able to follow the scenes it's spoken in?
Oh, yes, definitely. And they're speaking Spanish and English in the scenes. It's thrilling to hear this mix in these numbers. It gives authenticity to the Puerto Ricans.
What else has changed in this production?
Well, for the first time ever, the non-dancing songs have gotten a lot more attention, artistically. Like "One Hand, One Heart." They're exquisitely staged. It's just fantastic. This play was just ahead of its time.
How so?
Well, originally, West Side Story wasn't appreciated and was kind of a flop. They moved theaters, they weren't selling tickets. The Broadway community kind of turned their back on the show. Then, once the movie came out [in 1961>, it became a huge hit. I'

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