Stage Set for Oak Forest Grad in ‘West Side Story’

Rachel Marie LaPorte is performing in what she calls “a perfect piece of musical theatre.”

And she’s doing so in a place she wants to be.

For the next several weeks, the Oak Forest native is set to play the role of Consuela in “West Side Story” at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace in Oakbrook Terrace.

The musical, directed by Rachel Rockwell, will run Wednesdays through Sundays from this week until March 22.

Consuela is a strong and sassy character in the story.

“Consuela is a confident, sarcastic and driven woman; those three qualities make her very fun to play on stage,” LaPorte said.

The theatre’s website bills “West Side Story” as “a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” telling the tale of “two star-crossed lovers caught between rival gangs.” The revolutionary work changed the course of the American musical, according to the website.

LaPorte graduated from Oak Forest High School in 2005. She then attended the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and lived in New York for nine years before returning last year to Chicago.

She said she thinks Chicago is where she is meant to be.

“It was during my involvement in a previous Rockwell production that I fell in love with the Chicago theatre community and knew this city, with these extremely talented and welcoming performers, was where I wanted to be,” LaPorte said.

Eight performances a week are scheduled for the two-month run. LaPorte said she will immerse herself in her character.

“When a show has a longer run, I find it even more necessary to have a clear depiction of all aspects of your character,” she said. “Feeling as though I know how she walks, talks and cries makes Consuela feel fresh and well-rounded every time I step on stage.”

She said interaction with the other characters was important, as these relationships give her the chance to explore more character angles.

LaPorte already had a glimpse of these characters’ roles. She played Anita during the 2005 production of “West Side Story” by the Oak Lawn Park District theatre group. She said it has become one of her favorite musicals.

“ ‘West Side Story’ is, in my opinion, a perfect piece of musical theatre,” LaPorte said. “When you combine the book, music and lyrics with the direction of Rachel Rockwell, the results are truly beautiful.”

Classic songs such as “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere” will be performed under the musical direction of Roberta Duchak.

“I am most excited to perform ‘America.’ ‘America’ is the definition of why I love to perform,” LaPorte said.

“With our production, I think audiences will fall in love with ‘West Side Story’ all over again,” LaPorte said.

[Via: The Daily Southtown]

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