Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

A Twist on West Side Story Benefits St. Jude's Children's Hospital

in the hoodWhen community service meets pure, fun-filled entertainment, the result is an event that is hard to miss. This is exactly what the Duchesne Center for Religion and Social Justice brings to the Manhattanville College Community In the Hood: A New Twist on West Side Story opening on March 5 in the Ex Theater, Founders Hall.

The play tells the tale of how two very different people meet and fall in love. Sebastian and Shakira come from two different groups: The Crew and The High Society. The Crew is a very lively group that always wants to have fun and act wild. The High Society is very proper and they always follow the rules. The play centers on a conflict between the two groups as well as the romance between the two leads.

All proceeds will be donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Check out the Manhattanville Facebook page to see photos from rehearsals.

Craig Donnelly, Community Service Coordinator for the Duchesne Center, created this play because he loved West Side Story as a child but was bothered by how it ended.

"It's a twist on the classic," he said. "It's slightly different than West Side Story where the two groups can't get along and people die in the end. In this one people persevere and they move on."

Donnelly's positive spin on the tragedy is representative of St. Jude Children's Hospital's efforts in bringing about positive change in the lives of suffering children.

"I came up with this play as a fundraising initiative for the St. Jude's Children's Hospital," Donnelly said. "We have been affiliated with St. Jude's for seven years and I thought if we were going to do a play, this should be the cause that we go for because if it can help cure these kids of cancer, that's the way to go."

Donnelly has put together a vibrant cast who are very enthusiastic about performing, as well as being a part of a community service initiative.

"The show is unique from any other shows I've done in that it's improv; there are no scripts, and the actors come up with the dialogue on their own," said Layla Tavassoli, the female lead.

Freshman Antwan Harris, the male lead, said audience members should be prepared to be an active part of the performance.

"The play is entertaining and enjoyable, and highly interactive. We are allowed to pull audience members on stage and allow them to have fun as well," he said.

Performance will be held on March 5, 7 and 8 at 8:00 p.m. in the Ex Theater. Tickets are $5.00 can be purchased at the Duchesne Center.