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13th Feb 2023

West Side Story’s Kyra Sorce on the impact the musical has on a modern society

Ellen Fitzpatrick

“We could all use a little more listening.”

Whether you’re into musical theatre or not, you’ve seen and heard about West Side Story.

Be it the original Broadway show, the 1961 film adaption or the 2021 Steven Spielberg remake, most people have some familiarity with the production.

West Side Story is heading to Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this June, telling the story of two rival gangs of two different ethnicities in New York City – the jets and the sharks. It’s only when a jet and a shark fall for one another that the action truly pursues.

Basically, it is a modern-day twist on Romeo and Juliet – with that modern-day being in 1957.

Sitting down with ahead of the show’s stint in Dublin, Kyra Sorce spilled all when it comes to the complex themes within the show and the impact they still have on society today – even for an Irish audience.

Kyra plays Anita, the girlfriend of Bernardo who is the leader of the sharks and Maria’s brother. This role is a significant one in the show and a role that won both Rita Moreno and Ariana De Bose their Oscars.

“When I’m dropping into character, I think of all the Puerto Rican women and all they went through at the time. No matter what I’m going through in my day, I can do it for them. I want people to see the stories that we thought were going to be dated in the 50s are not dated anymore. They’re still on the page today,” Kyra said.

“They’re in our news lines, they’re in our headings. I want people to leave this show and look at their lives and how can it be more tolerant. How can I be more respectful, how can I hold space for people? We have so much more at our fingertips today than they had, so I really want and I hope to impact people, because that’s what we are, we’re all just human.

“The stakes don’t have to be that high, we could all use a little more listening.”

West Side Story deals heavily with racism, especially the prejudice against the Latinx community in New York in the 50s. While racism doesn’t show in the same way in the modern day as it did then, it is still prevalent and isn’t confined to just the US.

“Once, we had a meet and greet after with some donors and some white woman said ‘oh yeah, I didn’t really like them because they’re the bad guys’ talking about the sharks. Pure racism right in front of me. You have to take those things, hold space for those people and let that fire you as to why this story needs to still be told, why we’re still touring the world with it. Because people still say things like that. Racism is not dead and it’s taught. West Side Story is a show to unteach somebody,” Kyra noted.

“I told one of company managers ‘we’re going to Ireland, they’re going to love the jets’ and she was like ‘no no no, they love the shark women’. Because they bring the fire,” she joked.

West Side Story is opening in Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on June 12th and will run until June 24th. Tickets are on sale from €21.50.

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