SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Syracuse Shakespeare in the Park is putting on a historical production this summer.
For the past 20 years Shakespeare in the Park has put on free Shakespeare productions for Syracuse patrons, but this year executive director Ronnie Bell suggested a musical instead.
That musical is West Side Story, which is based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. “I grew up in New York city and I’m very familiar with Manhattan, the West Side and the displacement of the actual people on whom West Side Story is based,” said Bell.
That is not the only reason Bell felt this story was worth telling. There is a reason closer to home, “It resonated with me because of the displacement of people from the 15th ward in Syracuse, which is very similar,” said Bell.
This unique setting of West Side Story in the park gives patrons the ability to see a well-known story through fresh eyes, said Shane Archer Reed, lead actor playing the role of Tony.
“You see West Side Story and you expect the skyscrapers and really dirty, grungy 1950 New York city. We now have the ability, in an outside space like this, to get people to imagine their own West Side Story,” said Reed.
Syracuse Shakespeare in the Park has been making a local impact for 21 years. “Our main mission is to bring Shakespeare to people for free,” said Bell. Over the years more has grown from that.
The company now has a variety of ways they impact the community outside of Shakespeare in the Park. The company holds a one-week Shakespeare summer camp for children, a variety of programs in and out of schools and has teamed up with the Syracuse Teacher’s Association for the past 19 years.
To check out West Side Story and future productions visit the companies website,