Director of ‘Sound of Music’ in 2013 will take the helm of 103rd season’s production of play that explores racial tensions playing out on the streets of the Upper West Side in the 1950’s.

Jay Manley will director “West Side Story” for the 103rd season of the Mountain Play in 2016. Courtesy image.

In laying the groundwork for its 103rd season in 2016, the Mountain Play Association is thinking back to the smash success of its centennial. In doing so, the Mountain Play is bringing back Jay Manley, who directed the Sound of Music for that 100th  anniversary production, to helm the Tony Award-winning musical West Side Story.  

“We are delighted to have Jay Manley back leading our artistic team this season,” Mountain Play Executive Director Sara Pearson says. “He took the helm in a groundbreaking transitional year at the Mountain Play, bringing to life the classic Sound of Music for our 100 year anniversary in 2013. Jay led us through the Mountain Play’s transition into its second century seamlessly and with an amazing amount of grace and professionalism.”

“His talent and experience as a director was exhibited in the production itself, which was one of the most popular in Mountain Play history,” Pearson added. “We are thrilled that he is returning to direct West Side Story.”

Based on Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s infamous play about ill-fated young love, West Side Story is a Broadway classic written by Arthur Laurents and songs from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Made famous by the 1961 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, the musical is known for one of the most complicated and beautiful scores in musical theater history. West Side Story explores racial tensions playing out on the streets of the Upper West Side in the 1950’s. The story centers around turf wars between the Sharks and the Jets, two rival street gangs, one white and one Puerto Rican. When Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, whose brother is the leader of the Sharks, the young lovers must stand up to their families, their communities, and the very social order of the world they inhabit.

“I was thrilled to be asked back to the Mountain Play to direct the 103rd play on Mount Tamalpais,” says Manley. “The Mountain Play is such a special community, and directing in an outdoor amphitheater on such a large scale is an incredibly unique, challenging, and rewarding experience. I loved my first experience directing on the mountain, and I can’t wait to get back up there to work on West Side Story!”

Manley founded Foothill Music Theatre in Los Altos and was the recipient of a 2006 special citation from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle “…in recognition of his distinguished career as founder and artistic director of Foothill Music Theatre.”

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