Student stars in musical production

She had never seen a West Side Story production before. She had not even read the book. However, that did not stop sophomore vocal performance major Katrina Bern-hard from landing the lead female role of Maria in a Killeen West Side Story musical that ran from Sept. 28 to Oct. 14.

Bernhard showed up for the second day of auditions in August after hearing about the opportunity from assistant Professor of music George Hogan. Despite arriving late and having to prepare last minute, Bernhard was called back for a second audition where she was awarded the role of Maria.

“Google maps took me on some back road, so I got lost and was 30 minutes late,” she said. “I had to learn the choreography last minute, and I had never even seen West Side Story. I just showed up and sang.”

At auditions, Bernhard was asked which character she would like to play. Someone suggested Maria, and she followed the advice.

“I didn’t know who to audition for, so I asked someone ‘Hey what character should I play?’ They said I’d make a good Maria, who happens to be the lead of the show.”

Balancing rehearsal for West Side Story with Opera Cru and school work has been a big challenge for Bernhard. Lack of sleep and stress were prices she did not mind paying because of the benefits the production brought her.

“I’m working with people I’m not used to working with,” Bernhard said. “It’s been a big growing opportunity for me and a learning opportunity.”

Bernhard and the rest of the West Side Story cast just finished their third weekend of performances this past Sunday. The show and performance was hosted by Vive Les Arts Theater in Killeen.

Bernhard was not the only Crusader to participate in the musical. Play Director Joe Reynolds was glad to have freshmen vocal performance majors Chaz Corder and Clinton Barrineau as members of the cast along with several professors who were also part of the production.

“It’s been wonderful,” Reynolds said. “They’re extremely talented, so we had some great singers in our show to complement some of our local actors here.”

Corder faced many of the same difficulties that Bernhard did in balancing the play with school.

“The experience was really humbling,” he said. “I got to work with some really great people and some people who I wasn’t necessarily used to.”

Crowd feedback to the performance was positive. The cast and crew received much applause along with a standing ovation to end the night. Senior church music major Cameron Roucloux was impressed by the musical.

“It was very entertaining and a well done show. The orchestra was also really good,” he said. “They had a good pool of talent especially, for a community theater.”

The diverse variety of music in West Side Story makes it one of the all-time greats of American musicals. Beyond the music, the story also addresses racial tension through its characters and their many conflicts.

Bernhard did not know anything about Maria, but After three weeks of production, she became the character.

“When I’m on stage I’m a completely different person,” Bernhard said. “When I’m on stage for West Side Story, I’m Maria, not me.”

Author: Seth Stephens

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