Students at Okotoks Holy Trinity Academy are bringing gang life on the gritty streets of New York to the stage.

Grade 12 student Ethan Zapach plays the lead role of "Tony" in the school's upcoming production of "West Side Story."

He says it follows a Romeo and Juliet-style story line, with student performers bringing the world of rival gangs to centre stage.

"There's just an overwhelming amount of talent coming through," Zapach explains. "And it's a really cool story line, especially if you've never seen West Side Story or you've seen it done somewhere else. We really bring a new, kind of unique styling to it. Our choreographer Daniel Hall has done a lot of really interesting things and it's turned out wonderfully."

Grade 10 student Bryanna Cuthill plays the female lead of "Maria."

Although she has had previous musical theatre experience, Cuthill says this experience challenged her as she worked on discovering the character's traits and how best to portray her.

"It teaches a strong story about the power of love and what love can do and do to a person," Cuthill says. "And it's just a really good show. It's based off of Romeo and Juliet so it has that classic Shakespeare with a little bit of a more modern taste, so it's a good show just to let yourself be drawn into."

The school's production of "West Side Story" features 50 cast members, 20 student musicians and 10 members of the backstage crew.

Rehearsals began in the fall and have become more regular occurrences in recent weeks.

Cuthill says excitement is building as rehearsals become more intensive and the cast prepares for opening night.

"I feel like we're prepared, and everyone's working really hard, so there's no reason to be stressed about it," Cuthill says. "But it's just that backstage kind of excitement of, 'Okay, people are soon going to be in front of us.' We want to make this the best it can be and everyone's just working really hard to make it the very best."

Holy Trinity Academy's production of "West Side Story" is co-directed by Wendy Doerksen and Daniel Hall, with Martin Kennedy as the Musical Director.

Performances start Thursday, March 15.

For information on how to purchase tickets, click here.


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