New Castle News

Local News

March 19, 2014

Photos, Story, Cast List: Laurel to present ‘West Side Story’

NEW CASTLE — When musicals are timeless, audiences keep coming.

The tale of “West Side Story” stays modern decade after decade.

And this year, talented young people tackle a show that reaches new depths of emotion while showcasing songs that are American classics and choreography that is quite involved for a high school group.

This is the first time Laurel High School has staged the show, and it’s the only high school in Pennsylvania this year doing what director Charles Gryn refers to as one of the top American musicals, which was inspired by “Romeo and Juliet.”

“That’s a real tribute to these kids,” said Gryn, who has overseen the plays and musicals for 38 years. “It’s a big undertaking and the biggest show we’ve done.”



Set in the mid-1950s in an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood in the Upper West Side of New York City, the music explores the rivalry between two street gangs and feuding families — the Sharks and the Jets.

That’s a stretch from the countryside that surrounds Laurel, where there are no gangs to be seen. But somehow the leads in the show found a way to identify with their parts.

It was also a 360-degree turnaround from last year’s lighthearted “Guys and Dolls” for senior Jake Blank, who has a lead role in Tony.

As Blank described, “We went from joking to serious in one year.”

Even Gryn, who is assisted by five or six adults, admits to getting teary eyed at some of the acting, especially during the tragic ending.

“This is a dark show and there is a lot of emotion. There’s hatred and anger, and they do a good job.”

Blank said Gryn helps the actors and actresses find the extent of that emotion, particularly for experiences the average 16- and 17-year-old know nothing about.

“We all have to carry different ranges of emotion,” said senior Abigail Shepherd, who plays the 30-ish Anita.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • wampum_gazebo.jpg Wampum Homecoming draws near

    The 22nd annual Wampum Homecoming Weekend is scheduled for this weekend. It is sponsored by the Wampum Area Business Association.


    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg City imposing new regulations for vendors

    The city of New Castle is tightening regulations and imposing new ones for mobile food and transient vendors.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg New recreation fees adopted

    New Castle City Council has adopted a new fee schedule for Cascade and Darlington parks. The new schedule runs from 2014 through 2016.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • HolidayInn.jpg Union Township getting another hotel

    Union Township is getting a Holiday Inn Express. John McClure, owner of McClure Realty, said he had closed a transaction Thursday on 3.8 acres on West State Street for the venture, a couple hundred yards west of the Hampton Inn.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • audit.jpg Shenango pension fund audit due ‘this summer’

    The audit report of the Shenango Township pension funds are expected to be released this summer.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • HIShands.jpg Local youths team up with His Hands Ministries to do home repair for those who can’t afford it

    Area youth from various Lawrence County churches started lending a helping hand Wednesday to residents in need. The annual Lawrence County Youth Ministries service event brings together students and adults for three days of volunteering. It is part of His Hands Ministries, an initiative involving local churches and volunteers who split into work groups to perform  home improvement tasks for elderly and low-income homeowners in the community.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blight.jpg Funds would target Lower East Side demolition

    The Lawrence County planning department and New Castle officials are partnering to wipe out neighborhood blight. They plan to start with the city’s Lower East Side.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • movietheater.jpg Overcoming addiction theme of movie

    The movie, “Anonymous People” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. July 30 at Westgate Cinemas.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • BalloonQuest.jpg Balloon Quest ready to soar again this weekend

    The Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest will mark its 25th anniversary this weekend at Union Township’s Scotland Meadows Park.


    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boatlaunch.jpg County pursuing funds for more boat launches

    Lawrence County planners are pursuing funds to complete more boat launches. At their meeting last week, the county commissioners agreed to apply for $74,000 from the Commonwealth Finance Authority, through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, for the matching funds.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo