There is something timelessly captivating when a well-known tale is brought back with a new and exciting twist—that was the overwhelming reaction from members of The McCallen Society who attended a performance of West Side Story on Saturday, January 18.
Based on Shakespeare’s classic love story Romeo and Juliet, the original Broadway production debuted in 1957, creatively replacing the Montagues and Capulets of Shakespeare’s time with the modern-day Sharks and Jets street gangs. This critically acclaimed current rendition, directed by Ivo van Hove and choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, enthralls audiences from the moment the cast enters the totally blackened stage until the final minutes of the numerous curtain calls.
“This was a wonderful theatrical experience,” commented Susan M. Damiani ’87CBA, Director, Office of Gift Planning and The McCallen Society. “Most of our attendees were familiar with the original stage and/or film version, and they marveled at the ways in which this production remained true to the plot line while delivering it with a contemporary twist. The McCallen Society is all about the juxtaposition of the past, present, and future, and this event really reflected that reality.”
For members of The McCallen Society, the opportunity to get together with fellow St. John’s University alumni and friends is always an important reason to attend these wonderful activities. Whether a recent graduate or someone whose student days were decades ago, the connection to alma mater burns brightly within the hearts of these loyal women and men.
“It was great to see the members of The McCallen Society again,” remarked Angelica Acevedo ’19CPS. “After working in the Office of Gift Planning as a student aide for four years, it is nice to see familiar faces. Everyone here still feels like a family! I have seen bits and pieces of West Side Story but realized I had not enjoyed the full story until I watched it on Broadway. It is just one of those productions you feel like you have seen so many times because of how important it is in pop culture. These events are always great and filled with fun times and good friends.”
McCallen Society member Robert Cote ’10C feels similarly to Ms. Acevedo about the familial feeling offered by giving societies at St. John’s. The last time he saw West Side Story he was among fellow society members at the New York Philharmonic.
“I love that The McCallen Society provides experiences for its members that allow everyone to come together. Overall, the performance was a unique and modern interpretation of a classic. It is always fun to discuss the show with our St. John’s family after the performance,” Mr. Cote shared.
Members of The McCallen Society demonstrate their commitment to the spirit and values of St. Vincent de Paul by including St. John’s University in their estate plans. Their planned gifts fund scholarships, programs, and initiatives needed to ensure student success. Membership includes numerous academic, cultural, and social opportunities designed to foster and enhance the members’ connections to each other and to the University.
For information about becoming a member of The McCallen Society, please contact Susan M. Damiani at 718-990-7562 or email [email protected].