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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Civic’s fundraiser packs in-concert format with top talent

The Spokane Civic Theatre’s annual fundraiser show, “West Side Story,” will be performed in-concert, which means not fully staged.

Yet from a strictly musical standpoint, that might be a plus. It means that some of Spokane’s top musical professionals – who can’t always commit to a full-fledged 12-week production schedule – have been able to sign on for this two-show run.

Michael J. Muzatko as Tony, Andrea Dawson as Maria, Darnelle Preston as Pauline and Max Mendez, the conductor, are all top music teachers and performers in the area.

In addition, the show will have a 16-piece orchestra, double the usual size, made up mostly of professionals donating their talents to the cause.

This infusion of talent should more than make up for whatever drawbacks there might be in an in-concert production. Director Yvonne A.K. Johnson said that the sets will be less elaborate; but there will still be New York backdrops and the “indication” of various locales.

The costumes will also be less elaborate, but the lead performers will be in costume and the Sharks and Jets will be dressed in identifying colors.

You’ll still hear every song from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s famous score, including “Maria,” “Tonight,” “America” and “Somewhere.”

“The story is intact, the music speaks for itself and the dialogue is so good,” said Johnson. “I don’t feel you’ll miss anything.”

One other thing that will be intact: the famous dance-at-the-gym scene in the first act.

A group of 29 dancers from Lewis and Clark High School will dance that entire scene in a kind of “dreamlike sequence,” said Johnson. Drama teacher Greg Pschirrer has staged it based on Jerome Robbins’ original choreography.

With 28 vocalists, 29 dancers and 16 musicians, this will be one of the Civic’s biggest-ever ensembles.

These fundraisers include post-show receptions catered by Wild Sage American Bistro on Friday and Europa Restaurant and Bakery on Saturday.

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