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Glee-full West Side memory

November 13, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

I was watching Tuesday's episode of "Glee." Herman always tapes the show for me and I watch it the next day. Actually, "tape" is archaic these days, Herman DVRs the shows I don't stay up to watch.

Anyway, I watched this episode about putting on the musical "West Side Story," and it brought back a flood of memories.

When I was in the Girl's Glee Club/Men's Chorus in Cleveland Heights High School, we did a production of "West Side Story" that I was in as the character Consuelo, one of the Shark girls.

According to Wikipedia, "'West Side Story' is an American musical with a script by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet.'"

I wanted to play the role of Maria so badly, but I was happy to be cast in the musical at all. Our production was choreographed with dancing as well as singing, so it was a fairly complicated production for a high school group to put on. It was the first musical I was in and was put on for one night only.

Our production certainly paled by comparison to that put on the TV show "Glee," but then I don't think any high school group can compare to the professional caliber of singers and dancers on "Glee." And remember, for TV they can keep doing takes until it's perfect.

Bottom line is this: The actors portraying high school students in "Glee" seem like they are way more professional than any high school group could ever be. I doubt any high school glee club director looks at "Glee" and says, "Yeah, we could do that!"

Actually, my high school classmate Sean Young also was in the production. I can't remember who she played, but she did go on to play many movie and TV parts later, such as co-starring with Darryl Hannah and Harrison Ford in "Blade Runner."

It's funny, I don't remember her character in the play and she didn't strike me as particularly memorable back then. I know I was thrilled to be in the musical, but I don't remember much else about it.

I was in other musicals about that time such as "Music Man" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," but the episode of "Glee" brought back memories of "West Side Story" and how thrilled I was to be a part of the production.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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