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New take on ‘West Side Story’ hits Knockdown Center

By Merle Exit

It won’t be just any night in Maspeth.

To mark Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary, the Weill Music Institution has created “The Somewhere Project,” which combines professional actors and students from across the city in the classic Broadway musical “West Side Story.”

The show pulls into the Knockdown Center Friday for a sold-out, three night run.

In Maspeth more than 50 Queens high schoolers, including 42 from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, will participate in the show.

“With ‘The Somewhere Project’ and ‘West Side Story’ we’re looking to really focus on the voices of the next generation, and what they might have to say about the New York they want to live in,” Director Amanda Dehnert said. “I hope that our production and the song ‘Somewhere’ can be a lightning rod for people to think about making a world that has a little less pain in it, and more hope.”

As part of the project, the musical will be performed in each of the city’s five boroughs and include student singers from each location. The leads are being performed by a mix of Broadway veterans and up-and-comers.

Marin Alsop, a protégé of Leonard Bernstein’s, will serve as musical director and conductor.

“The themes and the moral of the story — youth and independence, and wanting to be your own person and make your own decisions, but being hampered by conflict and prejudice — are what really resonate with us, even today,” Alsop said. “This project is so compelling for me and feels so close to my heart because it brings together my adoration and love for this man, Leonard Bernstein, with this idea that story and music can change the world.”

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