West Side Story


May 11 – 28
at the Gateway Playhouse


A triumph at every level and as socially relevant today, this Tony Award winning musical sets the ageless tragedy, Romeo & Juliet, against New York City gang warfare. The melodic Stephen Sondheim/ Leonard Bernstein score weaves a haunting spell of realism and fantasy with glorious songs like “Maria”, “Somewhere” and “Tonight”. Add electrifying dance numbers with original choreography by Jerome Robbins and you have a timeless show for all generations.


May 2011

8 9 10













































DANIEL BAK (Luis) Hey ya'll! Daniel hails from Decatur,GA and is thrilled to be in this production of "West Side Story!" Gateway debut! Daniel moved to NYC to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and graduated in the summer of '07. Since graduating he has performed at Alvin Ailey, off broadway and was in the Metropolitan Operas most recent production of "Aida." Many thanks to his family, (especially his mother for encouraging him to act and dance), many many friends and to Ben for all their love and over flowing support of him.

MICHAEL EDWARD BAKER (Officer Krupke) Michael is excited to be on stage in such a fantastic production. Michael has been seen in National Tours, NYC theatres and on the screen. Favorite theatre credits from near and far include: Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jekyll and Hyde, Scarlet Pimpernel, Ragtime, The Secret Garden and more. Favorite Gateway credits include Ave Q (Brian) and most recently A Christmas Carol (The Ghost of Jacob Marley). When not at Gateway Michael enjoys classes as Groundlings School in LA and is busy building his West Coast resume having just filmed a promotional commercial for the 2012 Olympics and more. He thanks his Gateway family, the Allan's, his brothers, and mom for their support. Michael earned his BFA in acting from CW Post Campus LIU and is a member of Actors' Equity Association. For Dad.

SARAH BEHRENS (Velma) Sarah holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Dance Performance from Oklahoma City University.  She has danced with American Spirit Dance Company and choreographs for many different companies and conventions across the country.  She has toured internationally with Dublin World Wide Productions along with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  Regional: Gypsy.  Film:  How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song.  Thank you to my family and friends for all of their unconditional support.  Love ya guys!

JESSICA BIRCANN (Consuela/u/s Anita) Jessica is thrilled to be returning to The Gateway Playhouse where she was last seen welcoming the sixties in Hairspray (Dynamite,Ensemble).  Previous credits include: How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (WPPAC), Meet Me in St. Louis (Paper Mill Playhouse), Disney's High School Musical (NSMT) and the national tour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  She holds a BA in dance from Point Park University.  Love and thanks to my wonderful family and friends! 

HANNAH CHIN (Francisca/u/s/ Maria/Somewhere Solo) Gateway debut! Hannah was most recently seen on the New York City Center stage in Encores! Where's Charley. Favorite regional: Apache Dancer in Joseph...Dreamcoat (Casa Manana Theatre), Connie in A Chorus Line (North Shore Music Theatre/Pioneer Theatre Co./Ogunquit Playhouse), Ruth in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Merry-go-Round Playhouse), Cosette u/s in Les Mis (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse). Readings/workshop: The Peony Pavillion (Maury Yeston-music and lyrics), NYC pre-pro. Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl (Donna McKechnie-choreographer). TV: One Life to Live: Starr X'd Lovers the Musical! NYU: Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lee Strasberg Theatre), Sally in The Wild Party (Tisch), The Whore in Hello Again (CAP21), Lucinda in Into the Woods (CAP21). Favorite activities include shopping, cooking, laughing, and spending time with her boyfriend, Matt.

TONY CHIOFALO (Lt. Schrank) Gateway debut!  A native Long Islander, Tony is jazzed to be making his professional debut, only 12 miles from his hometown of Centereach!  Some favorite credits NYC: Five Boroughs (Mike); Long Island: Beauty & the Beast Long Island premier (D'Arque), It Had To Be You (Vito), Annie Get Your Gun (Charlie). My Fair Lady (Doolittle), Guys and Dolls (Nathan), Jesus Christ Superstar (Herod). Tony is a U.S. Army veteran who served during Operations Dessert Storm and Joint Endeavor. He would like to dedicate his performance to his daughter Emilie and thank K.C. for the love and support.

LAUREN DEVINE (Anybodys) Lauren is delighted to make her Gateway debut! Credits: How the Grinch… (North American Tour) Little Women, the Musical, Syracuse Stage. Oklahoma! and Steel Pier. UPCOMING: Hairspray (Amber), Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?  (Mary), Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. Lauren received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University. Love and thanks to the creative team, cast, crew, friends, family, Kathryn, Savy, Mum, Dad, Patrick, Liam, Mimi & Bubba, and always to Jacob.

BRENT MICHAEL DIROMA (Tony) Brent, a native Floridian and graduate of AMDA, Brent is delighted to be performing at Gateway Playhouse.  Favorite roles:  National Tour of Avenue Q (Princeton/Rod), Off-Broadway productions of I'd Rather Be Right (Phil) and Cabaret Girl (Quibb), and regional productions including Urinetown (Bobby Strong) and You're A Good Man Charlie Brown (Snoopy). Brent has also been nominated for the 2011 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Avenue Q. Love to my family, who put me where I am today.   www.brentmichaeldiroma.com

CRAIG DONNELLY (Indio) Craig is so excited to be making his Gateway Playhouse debut in West Side Story. Regional theater credits include the premiere of Tarzan (Flying Ape), CATS (Pouncival & U/S Mungojerrie), Crazy For You (Pete), She Loves MeOklahoma!, Seussical the Musical and The Christmas Spectacular He's been privileged to perform all over the country and has trained at The Joffrey Ballet School and The Eastern Academy of the Performing Arts. He would like to thank his family and friends for their unconditional love and support

EMILY SARA ESPOSITO (Rosalia) Emily is thrilled to be making her Gateway debut. A few of Emily's favorite credits include Into The Woods (Little Red), Urinetown (Becky Two Shoes) & Henry V (Pistol). Emily recently graduated from Binghamton University with a B.A in Theatre Arts and would like to thank all of her professors for their guidance and support through the years. Emily would also like to thank her amazing friends for always being there for her. Special thanks to Mom, Dad, and Nana for never letting her give up.
MANOLY FARRELL (Anita) Manoly is thrilled to return to Gateway Playhouse where she first performed West Side Story as Consuela. Manoly was in the original Broadway workshop of Leap of Faith and recently performed in the Off Broadway musical SOCKLAND as Bobby at The York Theatre. Other favorite roles and credits include Michelle in Dreamgirls, Zaneeta in Music Man and Hattie in Kiss Me Kate. This is Manoly's fourth time playing Anita. Much love and thanks to her family and friends for their support and Robin and Carlos for this opportunity.

JUSTIN FLEXEN (Pepe/u/s Bernardo) Justin is so happy to be making his Gateway Playhouse debut with West Side Story! National Tour: Movin' Out. Regional: West Side Story, A Christmas Carol, Joseph...Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Front Page (PlayMakers Rep). NYC: One Ride (Queens Theatre in the Park). TV: "30 Rock", "Regis and Kelly." Industrials for the Oxygen Network and OWN.  All my love to teachers, agents, friends and family!

EDLYN GONZALEZ (Teresita) Born and raised in Puerto Rico. She's happy to finally be a Shark and for a great theatre! Other theatre credits include Nine (Maria), Hair (White boys Trio/ Black Boys Trio), Rent (Mimi), A Chorus Line (Diana Morales/ Maggie), Little Shop of Horrors (Crystal), Oklahoma (Kate), A Christmas Carol (Belle), Alice in Wonderland (Queen of Hearts) and Rapunzel (Witch). She has choreographed for the musicals Nine, 8-Track- The Sound of the 70's and the upcoming, Shout! She also danced with Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico and performed in the opera Aida with Opera de Puerto Rico. Mambo...GO!
TRIPP HAMPTON (Snowboy/u/s Riff) Tripp is excited to make his Gateway debut this summer!  A Louisville, KY native, Tripp recently performed as Gene in the first national tour of ‘S WONDERFUL. Favorite credits: singing in 35 countries on the RSSC Voyager, Bobby in A CHORUS LINE, and Jimmy in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE.  In the fall Tripp will be back on the road with SOUTH PACIFIC!  “All glory to the most creative Creator!”
JONATHAN B. HOWARD (Action, Fight Captain/u/s Tony) Off Broadway: Songs for a New World-Benefit Concert (Man 2)Regional: The Last Five Years (Jamie), Jesus Christ Superstar (Simon), Cabaret (Bobby), Anything Goes (Billy Crocker), Big River (Huck), Mame (Junior Babcock), Grand Hotel (Jimmy 2), Grease (Teen Angel), A Little Night Music (Henrick), Moondreams (Ronnie), Into the Woods (Jack), Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma!, A Funny Thing...Forum. University of Mississippi B. F. A. in Musical Theater. Very happy to be joining the Gateway family!
STEPHANIE ISRAELSON (Clarice) Stephanie is thrilled to be making her debut at Gateway Playhouse. She is currently a student at NYU's CAP21. Past roles include Sally in Cabaret, Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Peggy in 42nd Street. She would like to thank her family for their amazing support. Thank you tothe cast and crew for this amazing experience.
DENNIS KENNEY (Bernardo) Dennis is grateful to be returning to the Gateway stage.  Some credits include The Pantages Theater’s Production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Buzz Who, Grinch Understudy)  The role of Eddie in the Las Vegas Company of Mamma Mia!  Mame at the Kennedy Center starring Christine Baranski and Harriet Harris as well as the First National Broadway revival tour of 42nd St. He was recently seen shaking it as Alex Rodriguez in a musical on Comedy Central’s The Onion Sportsdome.  Other TV performances include roles on The Young and the Restless, Nip Tuck… as well as a principal cast member of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase.   He holds a B.F.A in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University. A special thank you to BLOC, Mel and Shawn J. for their guidance and support.
THEO LENCICKI (Big Deal) Theo, hailing from the West Side of Scranton, PA, and a proud graduate of Penn State University, Theo is ecstatic to be making his Gateway debut in West Side Story!  Favorite credits include Hairspray (National Tour), Altar Boyz (Luke), Cabaret (Emcee), As You Like It (Silvius) and traveling South America performing on Norwegian Cruise Line. In July he will be heading to Japan playing Al in the International Tour of A Chorus Line. In addition to performing, Theo is a Pennsylvania Resident Artist and choreographer. Much love to family and friends for all the encouragement, love and never ending support. This one’s for you Papa!
REBECCA MAGAZINE (Graziella) Rebecca is honored to be part of the West Side cast at Gateway Playhouse. While getting her BFA in Dance at The Ohio State University, Rebecca trained with Hubbard Street Dance Company and performed in Italy with Pro Danza Italia. Off Broadway: Erotic Broadway, Crazy Sexy Disco. Rebecca was last seen featured in “Palpitations” at the Alvin Ailey Theater.  Rebecca wouldn’t be here without the support of her friends and family. Justin, thanks for all the crazy dance moves.
MICHAEL-KENNEN MILLER (Diesel) The National Tour of Footloose (Willard Hewitt). NYC: Broadway Backwards 6 (The Longacre Theatre, Broadway); Zombie Strippers The Musical (Playya); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oberon). Regional: Hairspray (Link Larkin); Fiddler on the Roof (Fyedka); ...Charlie Brown (Snoopy); ...Trailer Park Musical (Duke); On The Town (Ozzie). B.F.A. in Music Theatre from Elon University. Much love to family and friends and big thanks to Stewart Talent! www.michaelkennenmiller.com
MIKE MILLER (A-Rab) Mike is excited to be making his Gateway Playhouse debut in West Side Story! Favorite regional credits include: The Music Man (Tommy), Forever Plaid (Jinz), Oklahoma (Will Parker), and Zanna, Don't (Tank). A very big thank you goes out to my family for their support!

ROBERT MINTZ (Baby John)  Robert is excited to be making his Gateway and West Side debuts!  New York credits include: Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical (NYMF '10), Seeing Stars (NYMF '09).  Regional credits include: The Nutcracker (The Fulton), Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie, Sideshow (The Kennedy Center), The Visit (Signature Theatre), Kiss Me, Kate (The Washington Savoyards). Bachelor of Music from The Catholic University of America. Proud Member of AEA.

JOSE LUIS ORTIZ (Anxious) Jose is a native of San Juan, PR and a graduate of The Dramatic Arts of the University of PR. He was most recently seen as a dancer at the Xbox Kinect Event feat. NeYo and Lady Sovreign. Jose has also performed at many Theme Parks in Orlando such as Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios. Theatre credits include: Disneys Festival of the Lion King (Ensemble), High School Musical (Basketball Player), Fantasmic, Block Party Bash Parade (Dancer), Allure Call of The Ocean (Dancer), ABC Disneys Christmas Parade 2006/07. He also performed at sea aboard many cruise ships including Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises. Jose is beyond excited to be part of this production and be a part of the family of Gateway Playhouse. Thanks to my sisters and friends who always support me and keep pushing me to pursue my dreams.

AMANDA PHILLIPS (Minnie) Amanda  is so excited to be at Gateway! She recently graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Credits include Nina in “The Seagull”, Shelby in “The Spitfire Grill”, Chava in“Fiddler on the Roof”, Victoria in “Cats”, Frenchie/Kissing Couple in “Cabaret”, and “Crazy for You” at the Alexander Kassar Theatre.  All my love and thanks to the amazing peopl
HARDY RAWLS (Doc) Hardy has performed in regional and off Broadway productions as Oscar in the ODD COUPLE, four character parts in GYPSY, Mr. Meyer's in SPINNING BUTTER, Boolie in DRIVING MISS DAISY, Abner Dillion in 42nd STREET, he's guest starred on LAW AND ORDER SVU and CI, JUDGING AMY, ED,COSBY, he was also only the 3rd actor to play the MAYTAG REPAIRMAN-OL LONELY but he's best known for playing Don Wrigley{DAD} on NICKELODEON'S THE ADVENTURES OF PETE AND PETE

NICKY ROMANIELLO (Chino) Nicky is pretty ecstatic to be back at Gateway after performing in Gentleman Prefer Blondes and Urban Cowboy here back in 2007. NY/Regional credits include: Tape, A Chorus Line, Dog Sees God...,Crazy for You, Count to Ten(NYMF) and The Subject was Roses. Nicky is a founding member The Group Theatre Too theatre company, and is searching the skies for representation.

HOLLY SHUNKEY (Estella/Dance Captain) Holly studied dance at North Carolina School of the Arts. She has toured around the globe with Pilobolus Dance Theater and across the US with the Networks National Tour of Contact. Her Broadway workshops include Tarzan and Angels. She was the original dance captain for Wicked at Universal Studios Japan and most recently has joined the off-broadway cast of Fuerzabruta. Holly won a Carbonell Award in 2010 for Best Actress in a Musical for Vices: A Love Story at the Caldwell Theatre.

KIT TREECE (Riff) is thrilled to return to the Gateway Playhouse stage where he appeared as Mark in the company’s 2009 production of A Chorus Line. National Tours: A Chorus Line (Bobby), Hairspray (u/s Link Larkin). Favorite Regional credits include Genesius at the Goodspeed Opera House (Monty), A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage Co. (Young Scrooge), Oliver! at the Engeman Theater (Noah Claypole) and My Fair Lady at Monomoy Theatre (Freddy Eynesford-Hill). Training: The Hartt School. Thanks to Thomas.

ALEXANDRA ZORN (Maria) Alexandra  is thrilled to be playing one of her favorite roles in musical theatre! Regional: Ensemble/Narrator u/s  Joseph....Dreamcoat at Arkansas Rep. NYC Workshops: VolleyGirls: A New Musical by Rob Ackerman and Karate Tango. Favorites: Steel Pier  (Precious McGuire), Falsettos (Cordelia), Brenda Bly: Teen Detective (Brenda Bly). BFA ‘09 Oakland University. Huge thank you to Luedtke and Gateway for this opportunity! Enormous amount of love to her beautiful family and friends (hi my sis!). 1 Corinthians 2:9.

JOHN “JP” POLLARD (Production Stage Manager) got his start in the theatre over 30 years ago while working alongside the likes of Kaye Ballard, Imogene Coca, Cesar Romero, Evelyn Keyes, Jan Sterling, Betty Garrett and many others at Earl Holliman’s Fiesta Dinner Playhouse, in his hometown of San Antonio, TX. Since those early years, he has stage managed Texas productions of The Wizard of OZ and My Fair Lady at Austin Musical Theatre, Pump Boys and Dinettes at Theatre Under The Stars in Houston, and GYPSY starring Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle at Bay Area Ballet & Theatre in Clear Lake. Career highlights include stage managing the seven-month, SRO San Francisco run of The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe starring Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Lily Tomlin, four incredible seasons at New Jersey’s own Paper Mill Playhouse, and an International tour of Grease - Das Musical throughout Germany and Switzerland. In addition to theatre, he has also spent time as personal assistant to actress Sarah Jessica Parker. JP is also the production supervisor for High Hair & Jalapenos! - A Rip-Snortin’ Musical Revue - which will begin an open-ended run in San Antonio in the Fall of 2011. Find us on the web at www.highhairandjalapenos.com. Proud Equity member since 1983.

CARLOS ENCINIAS (Director) Carlos is beyond excited to be back after directing and choreographing Altar Boyz here at Gateway last summer. Originally from  Albuquerque, New Mexico,   studied Theatre in Utah at BYU, and has been living and working in New York City since 2000. Carlos associate directed/choreographed the  Adirondack Theatre Festival’s production of Altar Boyz, the  DC premiere of Altar Boyz, and will be directing/choreographing another production of the Boyz at the Westchester Broadway Theatre this summer. He’s  choreographed and associate directed Big River at Tuachan Center for the Arts, and taught and choreographed for the Broadway Dreams Foundations, Take it From the Top Productions, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Scera Theatre, New York Musical Theatre Festival, and  the New  Mexico Ballet Company. As an actor, Carlos  made his Broadway debut in  Mamma Mia and then left to act in and supervise the short lived Broadway production of Good Vibrations, a musical based on the Beach Boys music. Carlos  spent some time off Broadway  in the  award winning, Altar Boyz, where he  was dance captain and standby for the show, and was  privileged  to be in the final company of Les Miserables on Broadway. This past year he was seen in the world premiere of Vices: A Love Story, and just finished the workshop for the Broadway bound, Saving Aimee, starring Carolee Carmello.    Thanks to Joe, friends, family, HOLLY SHUNKEY (for making WSS happen), and God for abundant blessings! ”I say life is surely worth the courage that it takes to stand up every morning and face yesterday’s mistakes”.

ANDREW AUSTIN (Musical Director) Andrew is happy to be back at Gateway for his fourth season. After graduating from college with a degree in music composition, he moved to NYC where he began life as a music director and conductor. Over the years, he has conducted in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia for various theatres and universities. He also taught for arts schools and private schools in NY and New Jersey and worked as a music director and vocal coach for the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA for five years. In 2009, Andrew returned to graduate school, receiving his Master’s degree in composition. This fall, he will enter Peabody Conservatory as a DMA candidate.

JOSE M. RIVERA (Costume Designer/Glad Hand) is thrilled to continue his association with The Gateway Playhouse and to be part of this new journey. An award winning designer, recent credits include:   Crazy For You for The Maltz Jupiter Theatre; A Chorus Line, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Joseph...Dreamcoat and Gypsy for The New North Shore Music Theatre; Hairspray and Plaid Tidings for The Cape Playhouse; Dial M For Murder for The Sierra Repertory Theatre and The Feature Film “Collar.” You can catch his work on The Lifetime Network with the films: “The Perfect Nanny,” “The Perfect Wife,” “Blind Obsession,” “Facing The Enemy” and “She’s No Angel;” On SoapNet with “One Minute Soap Opera;” On VH-1 and Reality TV with “Strip Search” and in local video stores with “The Storyteller;” “Evil Alien Conquerors;” “National Lampoon’s TV The Movie” and “Destination Mars.” His designs have been worn by such stars as: Rebecca DeMornay, Tom Sizemore, Tori Spelling, Deidrich Bader, Beth Grant, Ann Walker, Chris Parnell, Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Nelson, Tracy Gold, Dee Wallace Stone, Marla Maples, Grace Jones, CeCe Penniston, Peabo Bryson and Bill Hayes. Mr. Rivera has won the 2011 Carbonell Award for Best Costume Design for La Cage Aux Folles and The 2008 Carbonelle Award for Best Costume Design for The Boyfriend  both at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre; The ITL Award for Best Costume Design for The Will Rogers Follies in Los Angeles; An Emmy Award for Groucho: A Life In Revue and The Barrymore Award for My One And Only. He dedicates his work to the spirit and energy of his parents and to his mentor, Theoni V. Aldredge. www.jmrcostumedesigns.com

MARCIA MADEIRA (Lighting Designer) is thrilled to be back at Gateway. Her favorite designs here include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 42nd Street, Sugar, On The Town, West Side Story, Swing, and The Fantasticks! Most recently she is designed the ice shows, including How To Train Your Dragon, for The Allure of the Seas, the newest largest RCCL cruise ship which made its debut last November. Previously Ms. Madeira received a Tony nomination and won the Drama Desk Award for the original NINE directed by Tommy Tune with Raul Julia. Other Broadway designs include: My One and Only with Tommy Tune and Twiggy; and The Music Man with Dick van Dyke directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd. (www.mtmdesigns.org)

ROBIN JOY ALLAN (Artistic Director) In her life bio, Robin includes 40 years performing, casting, teaching and directing, with much of that overlapping, taking her from one coast to the other and back. The films “When Harry Met Sally,” “Lord Of The Flies,” “Parenthood,” and “Ghost” are on her casting resume as well as one-hundred and thirty-nine Main Stage productions for Gateway. She feels blessed and hopes to continue to give back to the universe as much as she has been given. Robin lives in Brookhaven Hamlet with her amazing daughter Hayley and constant companions Lucy Dog, Mopsy and Momma Kitty.

PAUL ALLAN (Producer) has been producing the seasons here at Gateway since the 1980’s. Paul’s grandfather (Harry Pomeran) was the first producer of Gateway in 1950, followed by his uncle (David Sheldon), his parents (Ruth and Stan Allan), and together with his sister Robin. Paul has been able to work in NYC on various shows in different capacities, run a touring company with shows traveling around the country and abroad, operate a sister theatre in Connecticut, act as consultant and facilitator for the restoration and reopening of the Patchogue Theatre, and maintain a set rental business - where Gateway scenery is used in theatres across the country after appearing on the Gateway stage. Paul appreciates, admires and honors his family’s dedication to the arts and is proud to help continue the legacy. Paul lives in Bellport with his wife Annmarie and their 2 children - Luke 6 and Alexa 4.

The New York Times

Anita Gates
May 20, 2011

The Menacing Passion of ‘West Side Story’
Read the full review here


Steve Parks
May 17, 2011

'West Side Story' glows with a young cast

The late Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for "West Side Story" and directed its 2009 Broadway revival, was known as an unyielding perfectionist. Too bad he didn't live to see -- he died May 5 at age 93 -- a fresh young Gateway cast deliver an inspired classic rendition of the Laurents/Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim/Jerome Robbins masterpiece.

It feels like the first time. Indeed, for many of these 20-somethings assembled by artistic director Robin Joy Allan and director-choreographer Carlos Encinias, this is their first "West Side Story."

Brent Michael DiRoma as Tony and Alexandra Zorn as Maria may have more college than professional credits. With wide-eyed wonder, they present a marvelously convincing impression of a lovestruck high: In a first-sight instant on the gymnasium dance floor (representational New York set by Peter Dean Beck), they turn oblivious to the world that intrudes with persistent subversion on their cross-cultures bliss. Where "Tonight" can be cloying, this couple makes it desperately joyful in a no-eyes-but-for-thee duet.

Kit Treece, as Tony's pal Riff, leads the Jets in white-boy rumble-mania, itching for a turf war with their rival Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Dennis Kenney as Bernardo. Each gang's girls -- from Jets tomboy Anybodys (Lauren Devine) to Bernardo's squeeze Anita (Manoly Farrell) match the guys, step for flawless step, in the jazz-to-Carribbean-beat choreography restaged by Encinias. Hardy Rawls, as Tony's soda-shop employer, reminds us that the older generation may know something sometimes.

Jose Rivera dolls up the girls in color-coordinated dresses and pumps while primping the guys with flashy shirts and skinny '50s neckties bathed in Marcia Madeira's night-and-day lighting.

The genius of the original creative artists is rediscovered through this deep and deeply talented ensemble and the bracingly alive accompaniment of Andrew Austin's eight-piece orchestra. Kenney's Bernardo -- Maria's brother and co-conspirator in the ensuing "Romeo and Juliet" tragedy -- gripes with macho verve in response to the girls' liberating "America" anthem, while Manoly's Anita unabashedly reveals her tender side in the "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" post-rumble tearjerker with Zorn's Maria.

We'd venture that Laurents would approve.


Roy Bradbrook
May 18, 2011

Those electrifying first few moments when the curtain rose on the opening night of the new Gateway Playhouse season and the stage slowly filled with teenagers bent on establishing their ownership of a small, seedy part of New York over a rival gang’s claim quickly confirmed why West Side Story will always be considered one of the truly great musicals of all time. Of course, that exceptional combination of Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, Arthur Laurents’ book and the choreography of Jerome Robbins should always produce an exceptional result, but without very high standards of individual artists and great direction it will never come to life in the way that its creators intended.

High marks to the Gateway team who cast and staged this production, especially Carlos Encinias, who not only directed but also is the company’s choreographer. Gateway productions only have a two-week rehearsal time and it was amazing to see this talented group of artists as they performed Robbins’ demanding choreography with great precision and drive.

The story, based on Romeo and Juliet, is timeless and works as well set on the mean streets of New York in the ‘50s as it did in medieval Verona. Here the two star-crossed lovers are Puerto Rican-born Maria, beautifully portrayed by Alexandra Zorn, and Polish-American Tony, played by Brent Michael Diroma. They have true chemistry between them throughout the show, which lifts the total experience to one where you empathize deeply with their youthful hopes knowing that they will never be realized. Both are great looking and have strong melodious voices that bring the most out of wonderful songs such as the haunting duets “Tonight,” “One Hand. One Heart” and “Somewhere.”

The gang leaders of the Jets and the Sharks, Kit Treece as Riff and Dennis Kenney as Bernardo, work well in showing the antipathy of the two groups and, at the same time, their vulnerability due to their immaturity. Remember this was a time when disputes were not settled with AK-47s but mostly with fists, stones or knives. The thought of a gun raises horror with many of the gang members.

The show has several moments of high comedy in which Sondheim’s satirical lyrics expounding the social woes of the time are given full play. Manoly Farrell plays the sassy, sexy Anita, Bernardo’s girl, and she almost steals the show with her rendition of “America,” recalling Rita Moreno’s film version of the role. Another comedic high point is when the Jets’ members perform “Gee Officer Krupke.” This is Sondheim at his satirical best lampooning society’s take on the causes of juvenile delinquency. The only problem with this song is its placing in the show where it almost is a case of bathos after a time of high drama and tension – it always seems that it would fit better in the context of the first act’s numbers.

The entire cast and orchestra are to be commended for setting such a high standard for the season’s opener…a season when Gateway has become a nonprofit organization under the title of The Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County at Gateway Playhouse. It is increasingly difficult to meet budgets solely through ticket sales, so this move will enable Gateway to look for sponsorship at all levels, from regulars who love this theater and its productions, to companies and corporations that want to invest in local arts. Gateway has survived through the good work of the Allan family for more than 60 years and hopefully the new structure will ensure its long-term future.

West Side Story, through May 28, The Gateway Playhouse, 215 South Country Road, Bellport. For tickets call 631-286-1133, gatewayplayouse.com.


Modern-day story of Romeo and Juliet onstage at The Gateway.

Elise Pearlman
May 25, 2011

The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, now known as the Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County at Gateway Playhouse, has remained a theatrical mainstay on Long Island for more than 60 years due to its astounding performances.

Their current production, West Side Story, is no exception. When the award-winning musical about rival street gangs the Jets and the Sharks debuted on Broadway in 1957, it was considered revolutionary.

Based on a concept by Jerome Robbins, with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the story of a romance doomed by cultural discord is a masterful blend of light and dark, hope and heartache, comedy and despair. At Gateway, this timeless story still resonates with the genius of the original production and the cast is exceptional.

Gateway newcomer Alexandra Zorn, who boasts a glorious singing voice, is a stand-out as Maria, a young woman transformed by first love. She is radiant in “I Feel Pretty,” and like her boyfriend Tony, you’ll be smitten.

Tony, played by Brent Michael DiRoma, is the perfect romantic counterpart for Maria. His entrancing soliloquies, “Something’s Coming” and “Maria” will set your heart soaring.

Manoly Farrell excels as Anita, girlfriend to Maria’s brother, Bernardo (Dennis Kenney), who exudes grace under pressure as the Sharks’ leader. A wise-cracking showstopper in the mocking “America,” Farrell’s duet with Zorn, “A Boy Like That/I Have A Love,” is heartrending.

The action builds to a crescendo with “Dance At the Gym,” when the Jets and Sharks alternate in asserting their superiority by usurping the dance floor. Theater-goers will be mesmerized by this musical number showcasing spectacular dancing and a whirlwind of colorful costumes. The dance brings Maria and Tony, the two star-crossed lovers, together, elevating them above the melee escalating around them.

From the tangle of fire escapes set against the backdrop of West Side’s seamy underbelly to Doc’s Drugstore, resonating with nostalgic signposts of the 1950s, Peter Dean Beck’s sets are breathtaking. Their beauty is amplified by lighting designer Marcia Madeira, who uses lighting to magnificent effect. The gorgeous costumes designed by Jose M. Rivera make for a glorious, eye-catching spectacle. Kudos to Andrew Austin and his eight-piece orchestra, whose music is the story's centerpiece.

Carlos Encinias deserves tremendous credit for direction and the restaged original choreography. Producer Paul Allan and Artistic Director Robin Joy Allan are to be commended for bringing this musical delight to the Gateway stage. West Side Story runs through May 28.

Production Photos

Click any image to see it larger
Hover over the larger image for controls to advance through them


The Jets  

Download the Playbill
5 Meg PDF File


Their Girls  
The Sharks  
Their Girls  
Francisca HANNAH CHIN*
The Adults  




Conductor/Piano ANDREW AUSTIN

Board of Directors 

President Paul Allan
Vice-President Bob Durkin
Secretary Gale Edwards


Executive Producer Ruth Allan
Producer Paul Allan
Associate Producer Jeff Bellante
General Manager Dom Ruggiero
Company Manager Michael Baker
Director of Development/ Assistant to the Producer Scot Patrick Allan
Administrative Assistant Lauren Windsor


Artistic/Casting Director Robin Joy Allan
Associate Casting/Artistic Director Jessica Harrison
Director/Choreographer Carlos Encinias
Asst. Director/Choreographer Holly Shunkey
Musical Director Andrew Austin
Costume Design Jose M. Rivera
Lighting Designer Marcia Madeira
Scenic Designer Peter Dean Beck
Resident Sound Designer Cody Spencer
Production Photographer Jeff Bellante
Musical Contractor Jeff Hoffman

Box Office

Box Office Manager Laurie Parr
House Manager Joanne Famiglietti
Box Office Staff Beth Harrison, Nadine Hazard, Diane Koerber, Christina Montaldo, Don Rebar, Kyle Reitan, Francesca Welhous, Rebecca Bonness


Production Manager Brian Loesch
Production Stage Manager John 'JP' Pollard
Technical Director Mo G. Guiberteau
Wardrobe Supervisor Marianne Dominy
Master Electricians Jose Santiago
Sound Engineer Adam Shubert
Scenic Artist Keeley Dorwart
Props Master Robert Bursztyn
Assistant Production Manager Justin Hoffman
Assistant Master Electrician Matthew Daurio
Assistant Stage Manager Lindsay Sigler
Assistant Technical Director Dennis Berfield
Shop Foreman Charlie J. Bell
Technicians Maxx Henry, Joseph Loesch, Greg Marullo, Elizabeth Nosewicz, Alex Olsen
Flyman AJ Lebenns
Wigs & Makeup Supervisor Trent Pcenicni
Wardrobe Assistant/Sticher Natalie Ferris
Wardrobe Assistant Vanessa Pynn


Company Management Intern Cassandra Levey
Assistant Stage Management Interns Candice DiLavore, Ryan Keller, Bethany Sortman
Electrics Interns Keelia Liptak, Justin Michel, Kenneth Nicholas
Sound Interns Christina Verde
Wardrobe Interns Sam Abbott, Amber Mallon
General Technician Interns Kelly Nolan, Kendell McNichols, Erica Oliner, Scout Storey


Facilities Manager Mark Frederick
Concessions and Hospitality Manager Blake Armitstead
Cleaning Contractor Elio Sanchez, Maria Sanchez, Ray Tobia
Grounds Maintenance HTM Landscaping Company
House Staff Ethan Bellante, Julia Bellante, Ryan Hudak, Ajay Persaud, Jonathan Smaldone, Kevin Spellman, Ed Wacera, Ray Tobia
General Counsel Ann L. Nowak