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Preview: "West Side Story" at the Landmark

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In the world of musical theater, it’s hard to find a more star-studded grouping of artists than Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins.

This talented crew birthed “West Side Story” 65 years ago, and it stands today as one of the most popular works for American theater ever produced. By adapting “Romeo and Juliet” to rival gangs in 1950s New York City, the musical’s creators struck a nerve with audiences.

Songs like “Somewhere,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “Maria” are still some of the best-known tunes, even to those who live hundreds of miles from Broadway. This weekend, the national touring production of “West Side” hits the stage of the Landmark Theatre.

“The music is just amazing,” says Michelle Alves, who plays Anita in this production. “The lyrics are beautiful. The dancing is just perfect.”

In the show, Anita is best friend to romantic lead Maria, and dates Bernardo, leader of the Sharks gang. Like her character, Alves hails from Puerto Rico and says she identifies with her character’s passionate nature. Alves moved to New York two years ago to pursue a career in musical theater.

“I kind of did the same thing,” Alves says. “I had to move off my island. I had to leave my family in Puerto Rico. I moved to New York to pursue my dream.”

With its great score and classic story, Alves says the show is a masterpiece.

“It’s the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ of musical theater,” Alves says. “How can you not fall in love with it?”

“West Side Story” plays May 10-11 at the Landmark Theatre, 6 N. Laurel St., 8 p.m. Tickets are $48-73. For more information call 592-3384 or visit landmarktheatre.net.

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