Choreography carries fine production of ‘West Side Story’

Olivia Oles

 

This year marks the 58th anniversary of the classic musical “West Side Story.” The drama department’s rendition of this timeless musical has brought nothing but praise and an extension of  two performances.

Set during the ’50s in Manhattan, star-crossed lovers Tony (senior Brendon Mills) and Maria (senior Hannah Watkins) are pulled apart by rival gangs: the Puerto Rican Sharks and the American Jets. Both gangs fight to defend their turf and keep their images as the toughest gangs on the block. The performance was impeccable by the entire cast and crew and had the aura of a real Broadway show.

Mills and Watkins, along with senior Maria Hart (who plays Maria’s best friend, Anita), junior Alex Repyak (who plays the leader of the Jets gang), and senior Austin Wills (who stars as Maria’s brother, Bernardo) all had the audience in tears and at the edge of their seats. Both gangs had old-time charisma with the intensity of rough-and-tough fighters.

A live orchestra of more than 40 people performs instrumental music, and their  musical perfection harmonizes well with the melodic singing of the casts in famous numbers such as “America,” “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty.”

The intense choreography really made this musical different from past years. In the fight scenes, the choreographed dances between both gangs were energetic and seemed to fill the entire auditorium. In other scenes like the Dance at the Gym, a riot of dancers took center stage. Modeled after the original Broadway version, the characters were lifted and flipped in a sock-hop fashion to truly represent this exciting era.

The set included large fire escapes, brick walls and fences that illustrated the grunge of Manhattan. With the addition of realistic roll-on sets like Doc’s Drugstore and the Bridal Shop, it created an allusion that made each scene feel authentic.

Overall, “West Side Story” was entertaining and worth the hype. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars, only due to a confusing ballet nightmare sequence at the beginning of Act Two. Tickets are still available but selling fast. There are three remaining shows: one is Friday at 7:30 p.m., the next one is Saturday at 7:30 pm and the final show is Sunday at 3 p.m. Due to popular demand, the additional shows will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3 p.m.

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