West Side Story will be a landmark production for Jakarta Performing Arts Community (JPAC). In addition to licensing the original musical by Arthur Laurent, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim through Musical Theatre International, West Side Story also claims the most number of sponsors and media partners who will help us to put this legendary show on stage.
To properly share the exciting details of the production, JPAC held a press conference – another first in the history of JPAC. The press conference was held on April 4th 2017, a Tuesday, at the Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI), Jl. M.H. Thamrin, Menteng, Jakarta. Both traditional and digital media outlets were invited.
At 2 p.m., the MC opened the event. The first session was a talk show with three speakers from JPAC: Fonnyta Amran, the director of JPAC’s West Side Story; Rio Rahmansyah, the president of JPAC; and Elhaq Latief, the choreographer for the show. Rounding up the panel was the Keynote Speaker, Nia Dinata. She is an award-winning Indonesian director, famed for her movies such as Ca-Bau-Kan, Arisan!, and Berbagi Suami which tackled controversial social subjects.
The panelists began by sharing the meaning behind JPAC’s decision to produce West Side Story. This beloved musical filled to the brim with classic showtunes and energetic dance numbers is in itself a timeless work of art, but more importantly is the message of love and tolerance in face of racism. Everyone at JPAC believes that this message is more important than ever in the light of current events in our country and especially Jakarta.
The talk show continued with stories about the production process so far. From licensing the show, raising the funds through Kickstarter, recruiting the crew and approaching potential sponsors and media partners, auditions, up until the weekly rehearsals and production preparations, West Side Story is a team effort. And even though all the cast and crew are volunteers, they are working hard every day to make the show the best it can be.
Nia Dinata as the keynote speaker shared her appreciation for JPAC, noting that the message of West Side Story was indeed important to spread. Furthermore, as a filmmaker, she was happy to see young people passionate about the performing arts.
After the talk show concluded, the cast showcased a selection of the musical numbers to be performed in the show. The stage of the auditorium lit up as the romantic song of ‘Tonight’ was sung by Chezia as Maria and Elhaq as Tony. Followed by the number ‘Maria’ that told Tony’s yearning for the love of his life.
Then the stage rumbled as the Jets and Sharks members came on the stage and performed ‘Opening Dance at the Gym’, a fast paced and entrancing dance that demonstrated the result of their rehearsal. The preview was just a taste of what’s to come, as the show has many more performers – numbering more than 40 in total – who will tell the story of Tony and Maria, Jets and Sharks, and of hate and love.