West Side Story

I've been given an amazing opportunity. I'm acting in a high school play at the age of 50.

I suppose a bit of explanation is in order. I live in the town of Nutley, New Jersey, and my kids are both in the public schools here. Both are artistically inclined, and have been involved in theatrical productions, bands, choirs, etc. I've also been participating in the local theatre productions -- I love to act, and the "town shows" sponsored by Nutley Parks and Recreation have given me a great outlet for my thespian inclinations. I've had the extraordinary pleasure of acting with each of my children in the town shows.

This year, Mike Cundari, the incredibly talented choirmaster at Nutley High School, decided to mount a production of "West Side Story". An incredibly difficult show to pull off, but the payoff is huge if the production clicks. The upside of a high school production of this show is that almost every part is age-appropriate -- Maria, Tony, Bernardo, Anita, et al are supposed to be high-school age. Even most of the adult parts are arguably young adults -- Krupke, Schrank, Glad Hand. The only genuine "old guy" is Doc. So, the director asked me to play Doc. I jumped at the chance. I've never done "West Side Story", and I absolutely love the show.

Thank God I said "yes". I cannot adequately describe how bloody talented this cast is. Most of these actors are people that I have known since they were small children. They are certainly not now. They are young men and women of enormous ability, who have taken this production to heights that I can scarcely believe. I am proud to be a part of this cast, and humbled by their talent and obvious dedication to the task.

If anyone from the cast happens to read my blog: Thank you. It's been an honor and a pleasure working with you, and we will kick some serious ass on Thursday.


Karen Voc said...


That was not a High School production, it was "Broadway". Everyone was fabulous. I may be predudice because my niece played Maria, but everyone was buzzing about it. Great job.

Jim Russell said...


Thank you! Your niece Darrien was a major reason for the success of the show. Her incredible voice and serious acting ability captivated the audience (not to mention the cast). It was an honor to share the stage with her.