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Brien McMahon Stages 'West Side Story' in Norwalk

NORWALK, Conn. – The curtain opens to chain-link fences, vibrant red backlights and a snap that echoes through the theater. The iconic musical "West Side Story" is an ambitious musical to mount, but Norwalk's Brien McMahon High School is taking on the challenge.

After what director and music teacher Frank Acari called a "herculean effort" in fundraising by the students, "They wouldn’t be satisfied with something other than 'West Side.'" The Drama Club raised more than $30,000 in two months and has spent the past four months preparing for the show, which opens this weekend.

“This show was a true community effort. There were more parents involved than there’d ever been before,” senior Jonathan Santiago said. Santiago is cast as Benardo for his last performance at Brien McMahon, and he’s excited by the opportunity.

The fundraising was needed to stage the spring musical this year. If it had not been so successful, seniors such as Santiago who have done drama since freshman year wouldn’t have had any shows this year.

“An anonymous donation of $15,000 was the main reason we could do this performance,” said senior Mackenzie Bykowski, who is playing Tony.

Though most of the money is going toward "West Side Story," Santiago said some was put aside for next year's show to ease worries.

And with the cash concerns over, the cast and crew is concentrating on putting on a great show. “It’s like we’re a giant family,” said Maria DesRoches, a junior who is cast as one of two Anitas.

“There are a lot of boy parts and too many girls,” senior Melissa D’Angostino, who is also playing a double-casted Anybodys.

Acari is immensely proud of his students, both for fundraising and for all the work they’re putting into "West Side Story." “I have the best kids in Norwalk in our music program. They represent everything that is good.”

The musical opens Friday at 8 p.m. with another show Saturday at 8 p.m. Performances will continue at 8 p.m. March 30 and at 2 and 8 p.m. March 31. Tickets are $20 for VIP orchestra, $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, click here .

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