A Dominican Story
Our children’s creativity shined in our home's first, original musical.
March 18, 2012 - Dominican Republic
West Side Story is a tale of love, betrayal and beautifully drafted drama. However, take this love tragedy but locate it in San Pedro de Macoris with motoconchos and dembow and you have our first NPH-DR original musical. Volunteers Nelly and Pili started a theatre club last fall with a group of children with a wide range of age and skills. On the first day, when discussing what they wanted their outcome to be, the children responded with wanting something big and different, with music, dance and acting. The decision to create a musical was made and the rest is history.
After bouncing around different musical options, everyone agreed that they would personalize West Side Story to become “A Dominican Story.” Nelly said, “We thought West Side Story was going to be the most appropriate one, the one that was going to capture their interest, make musicals look fun, and teach them about the reality and consequences of being part of a band, beyond the superficial aspect of coolness that surrounds them. It would teach them things that they might not see living in a safe place like NPH.”
After months of planning and discussing ideas, the real work began. Our children essentially created the musical with Pili and Nelly simply as guides. The group of 18 children wrote the script, choreographed the dances and even recorded the songs for the entirety of the show. They also adapted the story to fit modern life in the Dominican Republic. This required the proper lingo, popular music and dance, and turning the plot into a situation involving two rival bands instead of street gangs.
After this preliminary work, the roles were cast. Weekly rehearsals continued to take place and the dedication of the children to the group was put to the test. Together, they worked through the highs and lows of the creative process. As they improved, they continued to raise their expectations for the musical. They praised each other when they would perform a practice perfectly and encouraged each another on the bad days. Nelly commented, “They gave each other tips to do it better and suggestions to improve. We’re happy to see they were heard and implemented.”
The night of the show finally arrived, after many months of preparation. Kenna, our Maria, was dealing with a sprained ankle just days before the premiere but adamantly refused to give up her role. Luis Manuel, our Tony, was excited and a little nervous. To add more pressure, opening night was in the middle of the NPH International meetings, which meant there was a full house.
The show went smoothly with absolutely no mistakes. Our actors performed to the best of their abilities, and our singers were the shining stars of the night. The children watched in awe as their older brothers and sisters performed the story with so much passion, yet still in a way that even the littlest could understand.
After the show each child was asked if they were proud of themselves. Luis Manuel blunted stated, “No—I am proud of all of us!”
Communications Officer and Project Manager