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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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Broadway revival of West Side Story to play T.O.

Tags: Arts
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TORONTO — Fresh out of college, Alexandra Frohlinger landed the role of “Anybody’s” in the first national tour of the Broadway revival of West Side Story, a role she played while in college.

“I did West Side Story in college at the Boston Conservatory, and I got to play Anybody’s in my sophomore year,” she says. “It was wonderful to come back to the role after having completed my training – with new insights, knowing now what I didn’t know then.”

Dancap Productions is bringing West Side Story to the Toronto Centre for the Arts next month.

“What is really special about this production is that it is the first production in the history of the show that Anybody’s sings the Somewhere ballad in the ballet in Act 2, ” she says.

Frohlinger, an actor, dancer and singer, might be known to Canadian audiences as a top 10 finalist in the first season of the CBC Television show Triple Sensation in 2007.

She describes her character, Anybody’s, as a tomboy. “She is really the only character in the play that is totally unloved and has nowhere to belong,” Frohlinger says.

 “Anybody’s is an outcast, she just doesn’t fit in. She’s called Anybody’s because she is willing to accept any love from anyone,” says the Winnipeg native, who’s been on tour with the show since October 2010. Toronto is one of the last North American stops before the show travels to Japan and then finishes in August.

West Side Story is a modern musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which debuted on Broadway in 1957. Written by Arthur Laurents, with songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the original musical was set in New York’s Lower East Side, with tensions flaring between Jews and Catholics during the Passover and Easter holidays.

The authors felt uninspired and shelved the project. Years later, Laurents changed the conflict from religion to race and mounted the show, making it a hit with a message that still resonates today.

Frohlinger says there is something in the story that speaks to the human condition, about love trying to conquer evil. “In the most simple terms, it is really about… love [surviving] in a world of animosity, hatred and racism.

“West Side Story is my favourite musical, and aside from the important message of the play, it is just a wonderful show… the story, the music and the dancing.”

From the age of seven, Frohlinger knew she wanted to sing, dance and act professionally. Her first foray into performing musicals was at Winnipeg’s Rady Jewish Community Centre’s production of Oliver.

Frohlinger says her goal is to perform one day on Broadway but adds that she is living her dream right now, having worked with West Side Story’s playwright, Laurents, before he died last year. Frohlinger has enjoyed seeing North America while on tour and taking in what each city’s restaurants, boutiques and thrift stores have to offer.

Frohlinger’s credits include Les Feux Follets at the Charlottetown Festival; The Drowsy Chaperone at the Manitoba Theatre Centre; in Dry Cold Productions’ The Secret Garden, and productions with Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Rainbow Stage. While living in Boston, she performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra as a soloist in the Baseball Night concert.

West Side Story runs at the Toronto Centre for the Arts from May 8 to June 3. Tickets can be purchased at www.DancapTickets.com, or by calling 416-644-3665 or 1-866-950-7469.

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