Meet the cast of West Side Story – Zuzu Park-Stettner

Your background, family, education, etc.

I was born and raised in New York City in upper Manhattan. Both my parents are very encouraging with my pursuit of the arts because they grew up as artists themselves. I had a very strong interest in dance so my mom signed me up for dance class when I was three. I trained as a dancer and started taking classes at the School at Steps and then later training with Ballet Tech: The New York City public school for dance. There, I worked with famous choreographer Eliot Feld, who was Baby John in the West Side Story movie. I worked on many pieces with him as well as other works by other choreographers performing on some of New York City’s famous stages. I recently just graduated high school and I am excited to attend Point Park University this fall as a Dance major.

Your last role was Anybodys – how are you approaching the role again in our production?

I grew up longing to be in West Side Story, so I can not believe I got Anybodys! For this approach I want to keep her as youthful as possible, while also giving her a harder edge than I did in my last production. I want to give her a clear arc from the beginning of the show to the end and show how she longs to be apart of something and belong to the Jets so I hope I can give her the fire she needs to come to life in this production.

Is this your first professional production? How do you feel working with the staff and cast of this production?

This is my first professional show straight out of school and it feels amazing being apart of something that is so special. I have been performing for years and it blows my mind that this is a job and I can get paid to do something I love! The staff, creative team and the cast have been such a pleasure to work with, and I’m looking forward to performing on stage with them in the next week!

What do you feel the audience will take away or learn from WEST SIDE STORY?

This story does not age. Even though it was made in 1957, the elements are just as relevant as they are today. What I hope audiences will understand about this story is no death was meant to happen. These characters are real people who live terrible lives in horrible home conditions and as a result they turn to their gangs to find family and escape from their reality. What we need to do presently in this country is to promote empathy. Kindness and love is the path to healing which we all need right now.

What are your future performance goals? How do you feel you can attain them?

What I hope for in the future is to take every opportunity I can and learn from it. I’m so young, and so close yet so far away from where I want to be. The connections I make with people is the way I build a family of creators and mentors along side me on my path. I hope I can create as much art as I can in my life whether it be dance, acting, singing, songwriting, producing, directing, choreographing, animating or wherever my heart takes me. I can’t wait for school and the education that it will give me along with friends that will last a lifetime.