‘West Side Story’ coming to Stranahan May 1-4Written by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
MaryJoanna Grisso’s mother, a music teacher, often played music from “West Side Story” when Grisso was a child, which exposed her to the songs she is performing today as Maria.
“I grew up loving this musical,” Grisso said. “It was something that I always wanted to be in. It’s such a classical piece of theater and it’s such an incredible story, an incredible message and a lot of people can relate to it.”
Locals can catch her performance when “West Side Story” dances into the Stranahan Theater on May 1. The show will be in town for one weekend only, showing at 8 p.m. May 1; 8 p.m. May 2; 2 and 8 p.m. May 3; and 2 and 7 p.m. May 4. The show runs for two hours and 30 minutes with a 20-minute intermission. Tickets can be purchased online at theaterleague.com.
Grisso, who thinks the show is one of the best of Broadway, said the production is timeless.
“It’s such a relatable story; it’s the Romeo and Juliet story,” Grisso said. “So many people deal with that in their lives, and racism and bigotry all still exist. … I think that’s why it’s still relevant.”
A number of things attracted Grisso to the role of Maria, but she mostly admires the growth of her character throughout the show.
“She is a very inspiring character to me,” Grisso said. “She grows so much in the show. You see her in the beginning of the show and she’s a young girl and by the end of the show, which is only a matter of two days, she’s forced to grow up very quickly with the things that she’s dealing with. … For me to do it every day, it’s like I’m learning from this character, which is really spectacular.”
This is Grisso’s second season playing Maria and she said she never gets sick of the character. The most challenging part was the role’s Spanish lines, which Grisso began being coached for as soon as she got the part.
“There’s a little addition of Spanish in this edition, which is great. It adds so much authenticity to these characters,” Grisso said. “So that was one of the things I worked on.”
For more information, visit the website theaterleague.com.