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Meet the cast of West Side Story (Part 2) – TAYLOR WRIGHT as Riff

TAYLOR WRIGHT as Riff

1. Tell us a bit about your background – family, education, upbringing, etc

I grew up in a small town south of Dallas, TX, and was raised there until I graduated high school. I grew up playing a variety of different instruments and got involved with the theatre department my sophomore year in high school. My interest for working in theatre quickly picked up around my senior year, and I shifted my focus from being a concert percussionist to an actor. I graduated college with a BFA in Musical Theatre at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, and in August 2015, moved to New York City. I’ve been based out of NYC since, and I’m in New Bedford on a break from the currently-running National Tour of A Chorus Line, directed by Baayork Lee and Peter Pileski. We head to Japan in August.

2. What got you interested in being in theatre?

I was actually in a band with a couple of friends of mine. I was playing synthesizer, running samples, and singing alongside some other bored kids making music and playing a handful of shows in the area. I was a freshman at the time, and both our lead singer and our bassist were in the high school’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead that I had sat in on a rehearsal for. After that rehearsal, I walked up to the theater director at the high school and told him that I wanted to audition for the advanced class next year. My first role was in a Don Nigro play and I was a cross-dressing prostitute. I went on to play in almost every production for the next three years. So, it goes…

3. This is your third show at NBFT. How do you feel about returning?

By way of the support from the creative team and NBFT, I feel so grateful that I have a place to go play in the summer, and that I have a company that believes in the work that I do as an actor. I’m always happy to come back to New Bedford, see those that I know, reconnect with patrons, actors, and most importantly play in front of some of the warmest audiences around.

4. What challenges do you feel you face in doing the role of RIFF?

Riff holds a very particular charge in this show. In a play full of children, he’s one of the older Jet boys, and he teeters between adulthood and adolescence as he leads the rest of his family to (what he may believe) is a better world for them. To maintain a commitment to hate an “other” may be one of the toughest challenges I face in this show. As I see this trend still present in society now, I want to create spaces in my life that actively works against oppression and discrimination. So, to enter into a territory of hate that is justified is going to be a unique challenge.

5. What are your future goals as a performer?

My future goals as a performer are to keep telling stories and to keep listening to the world around me and try to make theatre that involves everyone and affects everyone that comes to it. I feel like West Side Story will be one of those shows this July at NBFT.

WEST SIDE STORY will be presented by the New Bedford Festival Theatre, Inc. for 7 performances July 20-29, 2018 at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center 684 Purchase Street New Bedford, MA. The production will be directed by Michael Susko, the original Jerome Robbins choreography reproduced by Victoria Casillo and Michael Susko, and Musical Direction by Juan Rodriguez.

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