New Castle News

Local News

March 19, 2014

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




Most know West Side Story as the love story between Maria, played by senior Carley Pickel, and Tony.

Junior Matty Conway is Riff, the leader of the white, blue-collar Jets and has a part that calls for a lot of attitude.

Dakota Parsons, a sophomore, is Bernardo, the leader of the Puerto-Rican Sharks.

The music is familiar to just about everyone.

“Maria,” “America,” “Somewhere,” “Jet Song”, “I Feel Pretty” and “Cool” are the types of songs one hums over and over again after seeing the show.

Some of the lead characters select “Gee, Officer Krupke” as their favorite song.

Conway said it’s the point in the show where there is a lighthearted moment.

“It provides some comic relief.”

It’s one of Blank’s top choices, too, but he is drawn to slower songs such as “One Hand, One Heart,” in which he teams up with Pickel and the reprise of “Tonight.”

“From a visual standpoint, there is so much going on,” Blank said.

Near the beginning, though, he performs “Something’s Coming,” which he says is enthusiastic and gets the crowd going.

“There’s an excitement about the unknown in the song. You get to grab the audience from the beginning.”

That song appeals to Pickel, and Shepherd likes performing, “A Boy Like That,” because she said it requires the most emotion.

“It’s very angry and accusatory,” Shepherd pointed out. “It’s a challenge to sing that song.”


This is not a small cast. More than 50 students are in the show and another 65 are involved in set construction, costumes, make-up, lighting, sound and stage crew.

There are a lot of sets in the two-act musical, including Doc’s Drug Store, a bridal shop and the streets and alleyways.

“We couldn’t do this without a great art department,” Blank pointed out, adding that Lori Hite, home economics teacher, oversees the costuming and is assisted by a lot of parents. 

Conway’s favorite scene is the final one.

“It’s a shock to see the end,” he said.

For Blank, it is the rumble scene — the last one of the first act — that he referred to as most powerful.

The scene that covers a wide range of emotions is the assault scene at Doc’s, which is Shepherd’s favorite.

“This whole show is so intense,” Pickel observed. “And without Mr. Gryn’s guidance, none of this would be possible. He’s so supportive.”

Parsons said he loves the musical in general and by examining it closer, he could form his character.

As for high school performances, Gryn ranks West Side Story third behind “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

“It still holds up well.”

The original 1957 Broadway production ran for 732 performances before going on tour.

Three and half months of up to four hours of rehearsing every night all comes down to three performances, but the end is rewarding to all. That’s dedication, commitment and teamwork.

For this group, “the best part is we all have a great chemistry together on the stage,” Conway said. “We connect with one another.”

It’s bittersweet for the seniors to be performing together for the final time.

All agree they couldn’t have asked for a better musical.

“This was cast perfectly,” Pickel said. “This is a beautiful show with a great message that no matter what group you belong to, you can come together as one.”

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