“ ‘West Side Story’ is my absolute favorite musical of all time!” exclaims Dorchester actress Marta Rymer. No wonder, then, that she accepted the role of Estella in the Leonard Bernstein blockbuster, the season-opening production of the Fiddlehead Theatre Company, the resident company of the Strand Theatre, that will run from Oct. 16 to Oct. 25.
Directing and costuming this searing tale of love and rivalry is Jones Hill’s Stacey Stephens, Fiddlehead’s associate producing artistic director and recipient of many awards.
Set amid the gang violence of New York City in the late 1950s, “West Side Story” focuses on two star-crossed lovers whose families’ heritages and prejudices doom their love to a tragic end. Bernstein’s soaring music sparks this re-imagining of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” His sumptuous score has lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, who penned the words for such classic numbers as “Tonight,” “Maria” and “Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us).”
Choreographer Wendy Hall will recreate Jerome Robbins’s Tony-Award-winning original Broadway dances, another big plus in Rymer’s book.
A graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, Rymer has lived in Ashmont Hill for close to 25 years, although she is moving to “the city” immediately after the run of the show.
A quadruple-threat – dancer, singer, actress, and violinist – she is certainly in a position to appreciate this musical’s extraordinary score, telling the Reporter: “Everything about it is so perfect, from the music and lyrics, to the choreography and tragic storyline. I'm thrilled that we're doing the original choreography and I'm so excited to hear the 22-piece orchestra bring Bernstein's music to life. The production values alone are going to make it a must-see production!”
The powerhouse behind that production is Stephens, who previewed the unusual color scheme in his directorial vision: " ‘West Side Story’ is about young people, teenagers. Teenagers who define their lives in finite terms: Life, death; Love, hate; Black, white. So in designing this show I wanted to spell out those terms to the audience, redefining black and white – not as bad and good, but merely opposites, extremes. Showing their differences as the characters see them. Showing that only once they look beyond their differences will they find harmony, color. Beautiful color!"
Stephens will have no time to relax after this show because he’s also directing the three other productions slated for the Strand in Fiddlehead’s most ambitious season to date: Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” from Nov. 17 to Dec 6; the hit Broadway sensation “RENT” from Feb. 5 to Feb. 21; and the timeless “Show Boat,” from April 22 to May 1.
• To purchase tickets for Fiddlehead’s 2015-2016 season, or for more information about group and student discounts visit, or call 617-514-6497.
• For behind-the-times friends who still are wary of parking in Dorchester, Fiddlehead is offering free Old Towne Trolley service to and from Copley Square.
• Discounted tickets for Dorchester residents are $10 and only available at the Strand box office starting two hours prior to the performance. A valid ID is required to verify Dorchester residency.