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West Side Story- Fall 2008


South Plantation High School took an extraordinary look at clashing cultures in its ground-breaking 2008 fall production of West Side Story. Those familiar with the show might immediately have thought they knew what was coming, but they were in for a surprise.

Yes, of course this classic story shows us the rift between the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican immigrant Sharks, but this production added a whole new level of conflict! Not only was it directed in the style of Theatre for The Deaf, but after casting the leading role of Maria with deaf actress Giovanna Vazquez, Director Jason Zembuch chose to layer the family of Sharks with both deaf and hearing characters, incorporating the use of American Sign Language, interpreters, and many other facets of deaf culture in his examination of what happens when deaf and hearing cultures collide.

For years, this internationally recognized theatre program, under the direction of Zembuch and Michelle Terl, has been known for its unwavering inclusion of the deaf and hard of hearing students clustered at South Plantation High School. As a result, they are now able to promote their program as the premier training ground in the South Florida area for educating both deaf and hearing actors.

With this classic piece of American Musical Theatre, the Paladin Players explored what it means to be deaf in our society. In doing so, they discovered that deaf culture brings with it a rich community connection that exists both within and separately from the world at large.

In the context of this beautifully written script, we are presented with two ethnically diverse groups of hot-headed young adults embattled in turf warfare on the streets of1950s New York. In further defining one of these groups by their immersion in deaf society, the lack of trust that exists between these groups is even more intense. By infusing culturally specific attitudes into the production, and with the creative use of double casting to ensure that all audiences members are able to fully enjoy the beauty of Maria’s music, this show astounded and amazed sold out audiences for it's two week run. So special was the show that it received not just local but national attention when it was featured on ABC's World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson as part of their "Spirit of America" series.

Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Choreography - Ron Hutchins
Musical Director - Eric Alsford
Producer - Michelle Terl
Directed by Jason Zembuch
WSS News

CappiesWest Side Story Wins 2009 "Best Musical" Cappie

Click on the Cappies logo to the left and see video from the Cappies Gala!

Click here to read some reviews

2008 Production of West Side Story Incorporated into Japanese Middle School Education Curriculum

The Paladin Players production of West Side Story (2008) has now been incorporated into an educational DVD program used in all middle schools in the country of Japan.

Director Jason Zembuch explains...

"We were contacted earlier this school year by Global Photo Associates in California for permission to do so. After we granted permission, ABC World News Tonight was contacted and permission to use their footage was given. The DVD series is part of their adopted curriculum to be used from April 2012 - April 2018 and contains a segment dealing with the use of American Sign Language and Theatre for The Deaf."

The South Plantation Friends of the Theater congratulates Director Jason Zembuch and the 2008 Paladin Players on this tremendous honor.

Learn more about and see video clips from the 2008 production of West Side Story.


Cast & Crew


The Jets

Riff- Rob Oda
Tony- Justin White
Action- Josh Wittneben
A-Rab - Trevor Obier
Baby John - John Encalada
Snowboy - David Arbogast
Big Deal- Jack Hilton
Diesel - Lewis Gilbert
Gee-Tar - Ryan Patterson
Mouth Piece - Matthew Vitarelli

Jet Girls

Graziella - Nia Arnold
Velma - Monika Kluziak
Minnie - Francesca Cromartie
Clarice - Kaley Shields
Pauline - Nicole Nott
Anybodys - Carol Rock

Their Interpreters

Crystal Gray
Abigail Cline
Sydney Pigao
Lee Honeycutt
Dakota Edelstein
Michelle Norris
Nicole Nott (Swing)

The Sharks

Bernardo - Frank Gonzalez
Maria - Giovanna Vasquez
voice of Maria - Kellie Smith
Anita - Alli Santamauro
Chino - Eliel Batista
Pepe - Ivan Mendez
Indio - Noel Harris
Luis - Eevander Jones
Anxious - Alvaro D'Amico
Nibbles - Julian Montalvo
Juano - Ricardo Diaz
Toro - Josh Oliveras

Shark Girls

Rosalia - Jaimie Kautzmann
Consuelo - Leah Wilson
Teresita - Bianca Jameison
Francisca - Mercedes Brandt
Estella - Megan Smith
Margarita - Faren Dalipram
Ensemble - Suany Hurlston

The Adults

Doc - Jason Rosen
Schrank - Mario Aivazian
Krupke - Scott Collins
Glad Hand - Brandon Acosta

Production Crew

Stage Manager - Chelsea Dexter
Assistant Stage Manager - Lisa Duperoux
Producer - Joe Rawda
Student Producer - Abigail Cline, Suany Hurlston, Elizabeth Martinez
Lighting Designer - Mario Aivazian
Assistant Lighting Designers - Noel Harris, Alli Santamauro
Light Board Operators- Elizabeth Martinez, Jesse Whitelaw
Sound Designer - Joey Canosa
Sound Technician - Tyler Inman
Costume Designer - Kellie Smith
Assistant Costume Designer - Carol Rock
Costume Construction - Mercedes Brandt
Costume Manager - Joann Suarez
Assistant Costume Manager - Daniela Vergara
Costume Crew - Nicole Wood
Hair/Make Up Designer - Jaimie Kautzmann
Hair/Make Up Crew - Nia Arnold, Francesca Cromartie, Frank Gonzalez, Monika Kluziak, Alli Santamauro
Props Designer - Nicole Wood
Props Crew - Kathryn Duverge, Monique Reid, Mark Vitarelli
Set Designer - Joe Rawda
Master Carpenter - Josh Wittneben
Set Construction Crew - Mario Aivazian, Eliel Batista, Scott Collins, Frank Gonzalez, Rob Oda, Bryon Orr, Joe Rawda, Alli Santamauro, Joshua Wittneben, Justin White, Jesse Whitelaw
Scenic Artists - Eliel Batista, Joe Rawda
Equipment Manager - Scott Collins
Assistant Equipment Manager - Julian Montalvo
Deck Manager - Josh Oliveras
Runners - Taylor Hall, Nicole Wood
Publicity Manager - Joe Rawda
Program Designer - Joe Rawda
Program Crew - Abigail Cline, Elizabeth Martinez
Video Doc Chief - Josh Oliveras
Video Doc Crew - Christian Gati, Kathy Loayza, Chris Rock
House Manager - Jessica Ahringer


Video Clips



You know you're in for a great when West Side Story when opens with such spectacular choreography. The jets and the sharks meet and a fight ensues.

Riff (Rob Oda) reminds the gang when you're a "Jet" you're a jet all the way.
Tony (Justin White) sings "Something's Coming"
Tony (Justin White) sings about the girl he just fell in love with- "Maria".
Anita (Allie Santamauro) and Rosalia (Jaimie Kautzmann) lead the sharks gals in "America".
Riff (Rob Oda) tells the Jets to be "Cool" before the war counsel.
Tony (Justin White), Maria (Giovanna Vasquez and Kellie Smith) sing "Tonight"
Maria & voice of Maria (Giovanna Vasquez & Kellie Smith) lead the shark gals in "I Feel Pretty".
The "Somewhere" ballet, led by singers Nia Arnold & Sydney Pigao.
Action (Josh Wittneben) leads the jets in "Officer Krupke".
The finale. Chino (Eliel Batista) shoots Tony (Justin White).










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