West Side Story

  • Baseball plays Linn-Mar at Oak Ridge Middle School on June 29.

Theatre West is a-changing

A few new faces to the Theatre West program will provide new fun to this year’s productions.

(Eman Elsheikh)

Luke Reynolds, Reporter

Students, parents, family friends and ICCSD administrators fill the Arganbright Auditorium to see the two yearly productions put on by Theatre West. Whether the winter drama or the spring musical, there’s something for everyone in the audience to enjoy. Tickets sell out, seats are filled and the applause is always thunderous.

But behind the curtain, changes have been made. The structure of the shows won’t be affected, yet the community itself has some new faces that will give the program new life.

For starters, there’s a new tech director. With two years of experience at Cedar Falls High School, Billy Weiland will be filling in the position of prior director Jeff Smith.

I like working with new people and getting a feel for what’s happening.”

— Callie Dains '18

“Billy was our strongest candidate, and we are very glad to have him,” Theatre West director Katy Nahra said. “He’s willing to do all the work that we ask of tech directors, which is not easy.”

Despite being in a new environment with all the responsibilities that come with the job (staining, cutting wood so it can fit into pieces, constructing a vision for what the stage will look like, etc.), Weiland has adjusted.

“It’s a big change, but it’s gonna be fun,” he said. “The students are very nice [and] very accepting of new people.”

Callie Dains ’18 is one of those students helping Weiland situate. As head of set since last year’s Wizard of Oz and Les Misérables productions, she’s responsible for looking over design plans and the movements the crew will follow when placing things like tables and walls on stage during shows. She works closely with Weiland to make sure his vision is incorporated.

“Billy knows what he wants done, and he’ll do it,” Dains said. “It’s been interesting. I like working with new people and getting a feel for what’s happening.”

Secondly, there’s a new website.

“We needed something more user-friendly because we wanted to make more of our forms and calendars accessible online,” said production director Ann Rocarek. “We also wanted a place for people to look up information about our upcoming shows as well as a place to look at pictures, programs and posters from our past shows. It wasn’t a quick or easy process to develop the site or move everything over, but it was worth it.”

We … wanted a place for people to look up information…. It wasn’t a quick or easy process … but it was worth it.”

— Ann Rocarek

The last change will occur next month, when Nahra goes on maternity leave. This will mean Rocarek will fill in as director while Nahra is gone.

“[This year] we are all helping each other out and sharing some of those duties,” Rocarek said.

Theatre West hopes the audience and the crew take away important lessons and values from this year’s productions.

“Both of the shows [we’re putting on] are centered around some of the really tough and controversial topics that are present in society today still,” Nahra said. “Racism, discrimination, stereotypes, things like that. So we want to address those head-on; we don’t want to shy away from those. I mean, those are topics that we feel are important and need to be discussed. We want people to maybe feel a little uncomfortable with that and realize that [this] doesn’t happen in the past, it happens today.”

Both of the shows [we’re putting on] are centered around … controversial topics that are present in society today still. We want people to … realize that [this] doesn’t happen in the past, it happens today.”

— Katy Nahra

Twelve Angry Jurors will premiere Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. with subsequent shows the next day at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. West Side Story will kick off its three-day residency on Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. and continue for Friday and Saturday, with an additional Saturday matinee. 

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About the Contributors
Luke Reynolds, Copy Editor, Anchor, Reporter
This is Luke’s first and only year as a member of West Side Story. He’ll be kept busy with anchoring, editing and reporting, but he’s gonna have fun while doing it. Luke can be found reading, writing, taking part in Anime Club, COLORS and singing in choir and dancing in show choir.
Eman Elsheikh, Videographer
Eman Elsheikh is a senior at West High. It is her first year on staff and she is a Broadcast videographer. When she’s not working on videos, Eman watches K-Dramas and cries about college applications.
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