press release

Timeless Classic West Side Story Opens at the Ogunquit Playhouse

For Immediate Release:
August 28, 2013

West Side Story, one of the greatest love stories of all time, opens on the Ogunquit Playhouse stage September 4 through September 28. This all new production of the timeless classic, helmed by Broadway veteran director BT McNicholl, mesmerizes audiences of all ages from the first note to the final breath. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features beloved American musical theatre classics including “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.” With a set designed exclusively for the Ogunquit Playhouse by Michael Schweikardt, an extraordinary cast and an iconic score soaring throughout, theatre goers will fall in love with West Side Story all over again.

West Side Story tells the tragic love story between lead characters Maria, portrayed by Carly Evan Hughes and Tony, played by Ross Lekites, each from different neighborhoods in New York City. The strength of their love cannot overcome the hatred between warring street gangs the Sharks and the Jets. Ross Lekites is reprising his role as Tony from the first national tour of West Side Story and Carly Evan Hughes is making her Ogunquit Playhouse debut as Maria. Riff, the leader of the Jets, is played by Broadway’s Kevin Munhall who recently appeared on Broadway in Anything Goes, Bells Are Ringing and Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall, as well as in many regional theaters throughout the U.S. He has also appeared in the television shows Smash and One Life to Live.

Manuel Stark joins the cast as Bernardo after playing several roles in the recent Broadway revival of West Side Story. He has appeared Off Broadway, as well as in many regional theatres around the country including Paper Mill Playhouse, the 5th Avenue Theatre and Maine State Music Theatre. Gabrielle Ruiz plays Anita. She recently appeared on Broadway in Evita and In the Heights, as well as the first national tour of A Chorus Line and many regional theatres throughout the country. She has appeared on television in Law & Order SVU, Sesame Street and One Life to Live.

Director for the Ogunquit production is Broadway veteran BT McNicholl, who recently staged the Broadway-bound premiere of Europe’s hit play The Gronholm Method. On Broadway he has directed for the Roundabout Theater Company and has worked with Mike Nichols, David Hare, Stephen Daldry, Sam Mendes, Jerry Zaks, James Lapine and Rob Marshall on a dozen Tony-winning shows including Cabaret, Passion, Spamalot and Billy Elliot. He has worked in Hollywood as an acting coach for the Oscar-nominated film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, and as development consultant for MGM's theatrical division. In addition, he won the Australian “Tony” for Best Direction, has staged new works for Disney/Feld Entertainment and for the European premiere of The Producers for Mel Brooks. Mr. McNicholl produced Sunday in the Park with George: In Concert on Broadway with Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin. Working with Stephen Sondheim, he adapted and directed A Little Night Music for the concert stage. His Off-Broadway credits include author and lyricist for the musical The IT Girl and director for Billion Dollar Baby with Kristin Chenoweth. Over the past several years Mr. McNicholl has directed Cabaret, La Cage aux Folles and Fiddler on the Roof for the Ogunquit Playhouse.

West Side Story is choreographed by Broadway showman Jeffry Denman, who was last seen at the Ogunquit Playhouse in 2012 as the director and choreographer for Damn Yankees: The Boston Red Sox Version. In 2011, he choreographed The Music Man, which was honored with the Moss Hart Award by the New England Theatre Conference. In 2007, he performed on the Ogunquit stage as Bobby Child in Crazy for You and in 2010 he played Sir Robin in Spamalot. Mr. Denman’s Off-Broadway credits include YANK! for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award and was named a Joe A. Callaway Award Finalist as Best Choreographer. Mr. Denman has been the director and choreographer of over a dozen installments of the hugely successful Broadway by the Year concerts at the Town Hall in New York City, as well as A Tribute to Lerner & Loewe, All Singin’ - All Dancin,’ and Broadway Unplugged. As a performer, Mr. Denman has appeared on Broadway in the original productions of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Producers and the final cast of Cats.

Ken Clifton returns to Ogunquit for his eighth season as music director and conductor for West Side Story. At the Playhouse he has worked as musical director for Sunset Blvd with Stefanie Powers, Damn Yankees with Carson Kressley, numerous shows with Sally Struthers including Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof, The Full Monty and 9 to 5 the Musical, as well as the highly successful and critically acclaimed productions of South Pacific, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and the award winning The Music Man. He has worked as a vocal coach for Jennifer Hudson, Molly Ringwald and dozens of others.

Michael Schweikardt designed an all new set for the Ogunquit production of West Side Story. He has worked as a set designer for opera and theater companies across the country including the Cleveland Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage and multiple productions at Goodspeed Musicals including Carousel, Showboat, Annie Get Your Gun, 1776, Big River and Camelot.

Tickets are on sale now for the all new production of West Side Story on stage September 4 through 28. Single ticket prices range from $39 to $78 per show. For tickets call the Box Office at 207-646-5511 or purchase online at  Following West Side Story, Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story returns by popular demand to close the season from October 2 to October 20!