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IU Opera Theater presents ‘West Side Story,’ discussions on immigration and community

For Immediate Release Mar 26, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University Opera Theater at the Jacobs School of Music will present its production of Leonard Bernstein’s immortal “West Side Story” as part of the continued worldwide celebration of the legend’s 100th birthday.

IU Opera Theater's 2010 performance of West Side Story
IU Opera Theater last performed “West Side Story” during its 2010 season.

This classic musical, often referred to as a modern-day “Romeo and Juliet,” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 6, 7, 13 and 14 and at 2 p.m. April 8 in the Musical Arts Center. The new production will feature stage direction by Michael Shell, set design by Steven Kemp, costume design by Linda Pisano, and the talents of Jacobs School faculty members David Neely, conductor; Sasha Janes, choreographer; and Walter Huff, choral director.

A small display of items from the Jacobs School’s Leonard Bernstein Collection will be exhibited in the lobby. The bulk of the items are currently touring in the “Leonard Bernstein at 100” exhibit, sponsored by the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

“‘West Side Story’ is so classic in the performance world and yet so relevant to contemporary discussions on race relations and immigration reform,” said Timothy Stebbins, the Ted Jones Executive Director of Production at the Musical Arts Center. “Our new production is a collaborative effort between multiple forces within the Jacobs School and beyond, culminating in truly powerhouse performances.”

A scene from IU Opera Theater's 2010 performance of West Side Story
A scene from IU Opera Theater’s 2010 performance of “West Side Story.”

In conjunction with the performances, educational programming will also be presented, including panel discussions on immigration, and on conflict and community, which are free and open to the public.

“‘West Side Story’ is our story today – a story of gang violence, prejudice toward immigrants and hope in time of despair,” said Stuart D. Yoak, ethics consultant and former executive director of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. “Dean Gwyn Richards and Tim Stebbins recognized the Jacobs School of Music had an opportunity to engage students, faculty and the broader community in discussions about these critical social justice issues. Our hope is that through dialogue we will better understand the challenges as well as our enormous capacity to right injustice and improve conditions for all who live in our country.”

“We are fortunate to once again work with the extraordinary Stuart Yoak,” Stebbins said. “His dedication to social justice and his resulting coordination of educational programming complementing this production give our patrons an opportunity to join the conversation about some of the most critical issues seen in our headlines today.”

“West Side Story” public events

  • Creative team presentation: Noon April 3, Musical Arts Center lobby
  • Who Is the Immigrant? Finding a Place in America panel discussion: 7 p.m. April 4, Musical Arts Center lobby. Panelists are Miriam Acevedo Davis, president and CEO of La Plaza in Indianapolis; Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, professor of law and the Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow at the Maurer School of Law; Thomas R. Ruge, director and immigration lawyer for Lewis Kappes in Indianapolis; and Stuart Yoak, moderator.
  • Luis Davila Latinx Thematic Learning Community pre-performance discussion: 6:40 p.m. April 6, Musical Arts Center North Mezzanine. Leading the discussion are Constance Cook Glen, senior lecturer and director of music in general studies at the Jacobs School of Music; and Javier León, academic specialist and director for the Latin American Music Center at the Jacobs School.
  • Post-performance feedback session: Immediately following performance April 6, Musical Arts North Mezzanine. The session will feature Stuart Yoak, ethics consultant and former executive director of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.
  • Opera performances: 7:30 p.m. April 6, 7, 13, 14 and 2 p.m. April 8; Musical Arts Center auditorium.
  • Who Is the Other? Conflict and Community in ‘West Side Story’ panel discussion: 7 p.m. April 10, Musical Arts Center lobby. Panelists are Ian Forrest Gilmore, executive director of the Shalom Community Center; P.Q. Phan, professor of composition at the Jacobs School of Music; Marietta Simpson, professor of voice and director of the Diversity Committee at the Jacobs School; Tislam Swift, Jacobs School doctoral student in voice and senior graduate assistant at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center; and Stuart Yoak, moderator.

Educational programming sponsors are Indiana University’s Hutton Honors College, Jacobs School of Music, La Casa/Latino Cultural Center, Latino Studies Program, Maurer School of Law and Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.

Media Contact

Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas

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