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Tony and Maria lovers in 'West Side Story'

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Photo: Carol Rosegg "West Side Story" comes to life on stage at the Cobb Energy Centre Dec. 13 to 16.

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Photo: Carol Rosegg "West Side Story" comes to life on stage at the Cobb Energy Centre Dec. 13 to 16.

• What: “West Side Story”

• When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 14, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 15, 2 p.m. Dec. 16

• Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta

• Cost: $17 to $53

• For more information: Visit www.cobbenergycen...

ATLANTA -- The Puerto Rican Sharks rumble with the Polish-American Jets in the timeless love story better known as the "West Side Story."

Opening Thursday, the play takes stage at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center to follow the tale between star stuck lovers Tony of the Jets and Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

"This love story has survived so many years because it connects everybody," said Addison Reid Coe, who plays the role of Tony. "It's relevant because in any situation, in any walk of life, in any time period, you have people you can relate to or are outsiders -- who let love conquer the fear."

The audience may not remember every note, step and line in the play, but they will remember most of the songs in Leonard Bernstein's score, which includes "Something's Coming," "Maria," "America," "Somewhere," "Tonight," "Jet Song," "I Feel Pretty," "A Boy Like That," "One Hand, One Heart," "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Cool."

Coe, who is relatively new to musical theater, has found his challenges in the iconic role.

"Tony is so role specific," he said. "I am learning how to maintain my voice and having to keep a sound. The hardest thing is to not sing too hard every night because you blow out your voice."

But he enjoys playing the role night-to-night because of its message.

"Love has potential to lower all of the weapons and fights, and show that there can be a love between the two (Tony and Maria)," Coe said.

Since its debut in 1957, "West Side Story" has captivated audiences on Broadway and now around the United States. Fans come from all backgrounds and walks of life.

"People really like the show, which is great," Coe said. "Even my dad, who isn't versed in musical theater, he'll tell me when I sang something wrong. He even gets into it."

The show is recommended for children 13 years and older due to adult situations and language.