The last two summers, Omaha South High and local actors, directors, designers and theater technicians have collaborated on musicals.

The initial one was “In the Heights,” an urban story by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is better known for his blockbuster “Hamilton.” In 2018, they staged “Once on This Island” by Lynn Ahrens, the story of a peasant girl who is finding her place in the world.

Both productions drew crowds and critical praise.

They’re doing it again this summer. “West Side Story,” a classic musical based on a timeless tragedy by William Shakespeare, premieres Friday at the school.

Leonard Bernstein wrote the music, Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics and Arthur Laurents wrote the book for the musical, which relocates “Romeo and Juliet” to the streets of New York City and updates the language and situations. Rival street gangs provide the conflict instead of feuding families.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1957 and has never lost its relevance. It has been performed around the world since that time. It also was made into a 1961 movie that won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture. Steven Spielberg will direct a remake of the film, which begins production later this year.

Students in the cast are from several Omaha-area schools, including South, Burke, Gretna, Westside, Papillion-La Vista South and Bellevue East. The cast also includes students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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