‘West Side Story’ buzz brings box office blitz

MVRHS Theater Group may add dates in 2019.

MVRHS students' production of "West Side Story" was a huge success. — Mila Lowe

Updated March 9

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) performing arts department is considering adding dates to its 2019 play schedule after its performance of ‘West Side Story’ last month produced record attendance, and turned away crowds at its final performance.

Mark Friedman, MVRHS finance director and an MVRHS theater group volunteer, told the MVRHS school committee this week that the student performance of the 1960s musical drama drew a record 2,200 people, including two sellouts, forcing 50 to 75 fans to be turned away at the final performance.

“The production is a phenomenal success story,” he said of the Feb.15-18 presentation of the edgy musical story of love and New York street gangs. “Turning away 50 or 75 people at the Sunday matinee was one of the toughest things I’ve done in nine years here,” Friedman said. “We absolutely could not fit another person in the Performing Arts Center on Sunday.”

The center has capacity to seat 720 people.

He credited a partnership with TicketsMV for a boost in both ticket sales and seating efficiency. Observers also noted a palpable Island buzz after Thursday’s opening performance of one of Broadway’s more difficult challenges for actors.

Several members of the cast were on hand Monday night to share their experiences both acting in the taut drama of clashes between Puerto Rican and native New York street kids and performing in front of huge crowds. “It was amazing to see you made someone laugh, made someone cry,” junior Harold Lawry said of the audience reaction.

The MVRHS actors included senior Angela Hays (Rosalia), senior Samantha Cassidy (Anybodys), junior Harold Lawry (Action), and senior Emily Hewson (Maria).

Mr. Friedman said the performing arts department is considering adding dates in 2019. The MVRHS theater group has not chosen its 2019 play.

Updated to correct the name of the senior who played Maria.