The actors playing the two couples in this tragic "Romeo and Juliet" story are all making their Guthrie debuts.
Tony: Marc Koeck
His story: He's a Minneapolis-born, Fargo-reared leading man.
"West Side" experience: He's been in the show multiple times, and played Tony in the 50th-anniversary international company.
Quote: "Maria and I fight to change the world. We realize the world won't change for us, so we have to create our own world."
Maria: Mia Pinero
Her story: A native of Racine, Wis., she describes herself as "the love child of Tony and Maria — half-Cuban, half-Polish."
"West Side" experience: She's played Maria twice in the past three years: in Connecticut and Chatham, N.Y.
Quote: "In 'Romeo and Juliet,' Juliet dies, but the creatives [behind 'West Side') kept Maria alive. It's almost more tragic to have someone live on after their light has been dimmed."
Bernardo: Marco Antonio Santiago
His story: A self-described military brat, he was born in New York but raised in towns across the country.
"West Side" experience: Seven productions, mostly as Bernardo, including one opposite Koeck as Tony at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival two years ago.
Quote: "How do you make a classic fresh? Where's the life in the show now? I love what Joseph Haj is doing here. It's urgent and revolutionary."
Anita: Ana Isabelle
Her story: A Puerto Rican singing star, she's made three albums and won "Viva el Sueño," an "American Idol"-like contest on the Univision TV network.
"West Side" experience: This is her first time in the show.
Quote: "Anita moved to New York to follow her heart and to reinvent herself. … She's a very strong woman. … Even though she and Bernardo fight and argue all the time, that's [their] way of expressing love."