Members of the original Chorus of the Broadway revival of West Side Story have received Equity's Third Annual Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA) Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus. The award, which honors the distinctive talents and contributions made by the Chorus of a Broadway musical, was presented on September 22, 2009. Second Vice President and ACCA Chair Rebecca Kim Jordan made the presentation.
Members of the Chorus on the musical's March 19, 2009 opening night were: Isaac H. Calpito, Hayley Cartucci, Peter John Chursin, Madeline Cintron, Kristine M. Covillio, Lindsay Dunn, Yurel Echezarreta, John Arthur Greene, Manuel J. Herrera, Marina Lazzaretto, Chase Madigan, Yanira Marin, Mileyka Mateo, Kaitlin Rae Mesh, Angelina Mullins, Kat Nejat, Christian Elan Ortiz, Pamela Otterson, Danielle Polanco, Sam Rogers, Michael Rosen, Amy Ryerson, Jennifer Sanchez, Manuel Santos, Michaeljon Slinger, and Tanairi Sade Vazquez.
Executive Director John Connolly acknowledged the work, talent and dedication of the chorus and congratulated the recipients, saying "Strength, expertise, flexibility, collaboration -- that's the chorus, the motor-force of the Broadway musical. You are what makes it go. On either side of the footlights, we respect your work, and we love you for it." Equity President Mark Zimmerman, a member of the West Side Story company, was unable to attend the ceremony, but sent a letter of congratulations to his fellow cast members.
Harvey Evans, a replacement in the original West Side Story production, was awed by the recipients and asked: "Did I ever do that?" (Yes, he did!) He also read a letter of congratulations from Chita Rivera. Others gathered to celebrate the occasion were producers Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Sellar, general managers Charlotte Wilcox and Seth Marquette, company manager James Lawson and assistant company manager Erica Ezold, and press agents Michael Hartman and Wayne Wolfe, along with Eastern Regional Vice President Kate Shindle, the ACCA Committee and members of the Equity staff.
Mr. Sellar said that many nights he walked into the Palace Theatre just to see the dance at the gym. "It is a work of genius and it doesn't exist without you. I have so much pride that you have won this richly deserved award."
Ms. Jordan noted that the ACCA Award had been created two years ago by then-Second Vice President and ACCA Chair Jean-Paul Richard and the Committee and was the first industry award of its type to honor the original members of the Chorus of a Broadway Show. "They are an incredible example of what it means to be the heart and soul of a musical," she said.
Previous recipients have been the Chorus of Legally Blonde and the Chorus of In The Heights.