While they are in rival gangs onstage, there’s no rivalry between the two young Chestermere actors performing in StoryBook Theatre’s production of West Side Story.
“It’s just been really great this year,” said sixteen-year-old Carter Dale.
Dale plays Big Deal, a member of the Jets gang while Sehran Aheer, 19, has a speaking role as in the ensemble cast making up the rival gang, the Sharks.
For those who have never seen the movie or read the book, West Side Story is a somewhat modern take on Romeo and Juliet. Updating the classic play as a love story between members of rival New York City gangs.
Dale is perhaps the more experienced actor of the two although both have appeared in previous StoryBook Theatre shows as well as acted with other productions as kids.
Aheer enjoys the social aspect of the theatre and the act of working together to put on a great performance.
He is particularly enjoying the experience of working with StoryBook Theatre.
“[I’m] getting some really really good experience dancing, acting and singing,” said Aheer.
The best experience in rehearsals has been working with actual dialect coaches and fight choreographers.
“This year’s been great,” said Dale.
In particular the fight choreography has been both fun and challenging, especially with only three months of rehearsal.
“He…had to throw advanced stuff at us ‘cause we don’t have the time,” said Dale.
Picking a favourite role can be tough but when pressed, Dale said that his current role with everything he has learned has been his favourite.
“This year as Big Deal has been a new take on characters I’ve done,” he said.
Even though they are both having fun with the performance, the whole experience hasn’t been without its challenges.
Despite their experience both agree that the dancing involved in West Side Story has been a challenge.
“I’ve gotten…better at the whole dancing thing,” said Dale.
Continuing in their similarities, both hope to continue pursuing acting in their post-secondary careers with Aheer looking to enroll in a University musical theatre program.
“I’m thinking either of going to U of C, MRU or Ambrose,” said Aheer.
Dale is planning to study at SAIT.
“I’m planning to go…for film,” said Dale, “kinda do a Clint Eastwood thing of acting…and have a directing side.”
West Side Story is playing at the Beddington Heights Theatre in Calgary until September 9.
For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.storybooktheatre.org.