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The actors playing the two couples in this tragic "Romeo and Juliet" story are all making their Guthrie debuts.

Tony: Marc Koeck

His story: He's a Minneapolis-born, Fargo-reared leading man.

"West Side" experience: He's been in the show multiple times, and played Tony in the 50th-anniversary international company.

Quote: "Maria and I fight to change the world. We realize the world won't change for us, so we have to create our own world."

Maria: Mia Pinero

Her story: A native of Racine, Wis., she describes herself as "the love child of Tony and Maria — half-Cuban, half-Polish."

"West Side" experience: She's played Maria twice in the past three years: in Connecticut and Chatham, N.Y.

Quote: "In 'Romeo and Juliet,' Juliet dies, but the creatives [behind 'West Side') kept Maria alive. It's almost more tragic to have someone live on after their light has been dimmed."

Bernardo: Marco Antonio Santiago

His story: A self-described military brat, he was born in New York but raised in towns across the country.

"West Side" experience: Seven productions, mostly as Bernardo, including one opposite Koeck as Tony at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival two years ago.

Quote: "How do you make a classic fresh? Where's the life in the show now? I love what Joseph Haj is doing here. It's urgent and revolutionary."

Anita: Ana Isabelle

Her story: A Puerto Rican singing star, she's made three albums and won "Viva el Sueño," an "American Idol"-like contest on the Uni­vision TV network.

"West Side" experience: This is her first time in the show.

Quote: "Anita moved to New York to follow her heart and to reinvent herself. … She's a very strong woman. … Even though she and Bernardo fight and argue all the time, that's [their] way of expressing love."