In “Somewhere,” making its regional premiere at TheatreWorks, some talented Puerto Rican children want to try out for “West Side Story,” but they’re hampered, because they are losing their family’s home.
In 1959 — when ground broke to begin building New York’s Lincoln Center — 7,000 families, many Puerto Rican, were displaced. The little-known issue provides the crux of the plot of the dance-filled play by Matthew Lopez, which begins previews Wednesday in Mountain View.
Director Giovanna Sardelli, who comes from an immigrant and show biz family — her Italian dad had a one-man variety show in Las Vegas — loved the play upon first reading it.
“There is this crazy household filled with all this love, desire and the pain of figuring out who you are in this new country,” she says. “[Lopez] is telling a profoundly beautiful and important story.”
She adds: “‘Somewhere’ ... is old-fashioned in a way, but completely relevant to today.”
The five-person cast includes Tony Award-winning Priscilla Lopez, who originated the role of Diana in “A Chorus Line,” and also is the playwright’s aunt.
The show also boasts cast members with “West Side Story” experience: Michael Rosen, who has performed with the New York City Ballet, played Chino in the 2009 Broadway revival, and Leo Ash Evens appeared in the musical’s 50th anniversary tour.
Michelle Cabinian, of the local troupe 42nd Street Moon, and Eddie Gutierrez round out the cast.
“I think the dancing is one of the strengths of the play,” Sardelli says. “They take you to another world, where a family’s reality is so difficult they survive by their dreams. At the end of the evening you can’t believe there are only five people up there who did that.”