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Jakarta Performing Arts Community’s road to ‘West Side Story’

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, March 15, 2017  /  09:40 am
Jakarta Performing Arts Community’s road to ‘West Side Story’

Differing from previous productions, the production team behind West Side Story selected its crew before beginning auditions. (Shutterstock/-)

United Dance Works in Kemang, South Jakarta, is buzzing with energy as more and more people file in for the first read through of the Jakarta Performing Arts Community’s eighth production, West Side Story.

Nearly a month had passed between the first rehearsal and the arduous auditions, which saw a turnout of 160 people. Everyone in the room was more than ready to begin and finally get to know the group that they would be working with for the next four months. The group was made up of both members old and new, but no one knew exactly what to expect.

The Jakarta Performing Arts Community (JPAC) was founded in 2014. Its past shows include Seussical, Children of Eden and Fame, as well as biennial musical revue titled Broadway ke Java. 

JPAC president Rio Rahmansyah describes the JPAC as “a family comprised of various backgrounds, cultures and nationalities,” adding that “seeing people who would otherwise be strangers work together as they acquire and sharpen their skills serves to prove how art in its many forms can bring humanity to a better place.”

Read also: Shakespeare-inspired dance performance presents silence on stage


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Differing from previous productions, the production team behind West Side Story selected its crew before beginning auditions. “The crew is the backbone of the show,” said West Side Story director Fonnyta Amran. “Especially for a production this size, it’s just so demanding, and the cast without the crew is nothing.”

West Side Story was also crowdfunded through Kickstarter “because we were applying for the license [from Musical Theatre International], so we needed to make sure we were funded”.

According to Rahmansyah, West Side Story was chosen because the JPAC board felt that it was still relevant, despite being written and set in the 1950s. “Society is often divided by many things, but instead of embracing the diversity and forming stronger bonds between groups we let the differences separate us and pit us against each other. The love between Tony and Maria reminds us that we are all human.”

Read also: Borobudur temple hosts new monthly dance performance

Now halfway through rehearsals and two months until West Side Story’s opening night, the cast and crew are working non-stop.

There are rehearsals three to four times a week, where members of the cast are constantly on their feet, rehearsing their songs, dances and acting, to meet the demands of such a challenging show. The company is made up of 49 people, 31 of whom have speaking roles, with the rest either in the dancing or singing ensemble.  

This hard, sometimes grueling work is all going into what the JPAC hopes will be its best and biggest show yet. Amran wants the production to be on a professional level, as the premiere of West Side Story makes the JPAC the first amateur community theater in Indonesia to put on a licensed show.

West Side Story runs from May 12-14 at Taman Ismail Marzuki's Graha Bakti Budaya in Central Jakarta. (sul/kes)

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