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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

September 23, 2008

A Dancer’s Life – Epson Salt, Icy Hot, Lay-outs, and Dancing at the Gym by Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 4:49 pm

Dancing and playing the role of Anita has been a dream of mine since I was knee high to a ballerina. I got the soundtrack to West Side Story when I was in middle school and I would sing “America” and “A Boy Like That” in the shower at the top of my lungs (my parents can testify).  Anita’s energy, smarts, and sass is what drew me to her and made Anita a dream role for me. I performed West Side Story for the first time in high school as a jet girl. I would watch Anita’s numbers from off stage every night and be in awe of the dance and fire she brought to the stage. Being that I am extremely Caucasian looking I never dreamed that I would get the privilege to play the part.

Then Charleston Stage Company came into my life and made that dream come true. The entire process of creating this show has been magical. From the early dance rehearsals, to refining and rehearsing the scene work, to finally being able to share the show with an audience. Magic truly happened on that stage. I speak for all the Resident Actors when I say we had to pinch ourselves every once in a while because we thought doing this show was too good to be true.

I will say it wasn’t all smiles and laughs. I have been dancing since I was 5 years old and never in my years of ballet classes and dance musicals have I been as sore as I was for the West Side rehearsal process. I became one of CVS’s loyal patrons, purchasing Epson salt and icy hot on a regular basis.  I must also say that never in my life have I felt more alive and worked as hard dancing onstage. Resident Actor Michael Lasris, (Bernardo) was a fantastic dance partner. Some of the lifts could be a little scary if the right partner isn’t there to catch you. He was always there and made the “Dance at the Gym” exciting every night.

Also working with Kevin P. Hill, our choreographer, was a treat. He taught us original choreography with his own vision and was always challenging us. I feel like a better dancer and performer due to his expertise and the opportunity to do this show.  

Overall, it was a truly magical and memorable show and I will miss it dearly. 


(Center:  Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as Anita sings “America”)



(Center:  Resident Actors Michael Lasris and Sarah Claire Smith as Bernardo and Anita) 

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