Theatre Mirror Reviews - "West Side Story"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi


"WEST SIDE STORY"

based on a conception by Jerome Robbins
book by Arthur Laurents
music by Leonard Bernstein
lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins

directed and choreographed by Barry Ivan
musical direction by Dale Rieling

The Jets:

Riff, the leader … David Larsen
Tony, his friend … Ryan Silverman
Action … Timothy Quinlan
A-rab … DJ Chase
Baby John … Michael McGurk
Diesel … Kevin Steele
Snowboy … Tim McGarrigal
Big Deal … Jeff Lewis

Their Girls:

Anybodys … Kathy Meyer
Velma … Kimberly Wolff
Graziella … Lauren Wagner
Minnie … Pamela Otterson
Clarise … Melinda Hall
Pauline … Lori Barber

The Sharks:

Bernardo, the leader … Enrique Acevedo
Maria, his sister … Elena Shaddow
Anita, his girl … Roxane Carrasco
Chino, his friend … Jonathan Cazull
Pepe … Wilson Mendietta
Juano … Vincent Zamora
Anxious … Oscar Campisi
Luis … Peter King-Yuen
Indio … Jason Scott Babinsky

Their Girls:

Consuela … Jessica Lea Patty
Rosalia … Jaclyn Minerva
Margarita … Brittany Marcin
Estella … Vonnie Roemer
Teresita … Michelle Scarpa
Fancisca … Kathy Nejat

The Adults:

Doc … David Coffee
Lt. Schrank … Al Bundonis
Sgt. Krupke … Bruce-Robert Serafin
Gladhand … Keith Remon

The North Shore Music Theatre’s current production, WEST SIDE STORY, is better sung than danced --- that in itself is not a bad thing as the Bernstein-Sondheim score remains one of the glories of the American musical and Tony and Maria (Romeo and Juliet, circa 1957) are, after all, the star-crossed leads. However, its groundbreaking dances are what put WEST SIDE STORY on the map and here the North Shore production falls down: Barry Ivan recycles much of the original Robbins choreography but fails to ignite it (only “America” and “Gee, Officer Krupke” have some sparks) and his dancers --- many, from the junior division --- lack personality and a sense of storytelling through movement resulting in a "nice" show without tension or suspense (aside from the dancers swirling around open trap doors that take forever to close); nor did the Jets’ Bowery Boy imitations convince me they were born on the hot pavements of New York: David Larsen’s Riff, in particular, is a sweet-faced cherub whose anachronistic mop of golden curls would cause his gang to be rechristened the Gorgeous Georges; Kevin Steele, the tall, lean Diesel, is the more natural leader --- his few seconds of sparring with Bernardo just before the rumble is what the “hate” side of WEST SIDE STORY is all about.

Ryan Silverman’s Tony is also sweet, but romantically so (no ex-gang member, here), impressing with a light, nasal voice that never cracks in declamation, not even when he slides up into the falsetto range, and Elena Shaddow’s Maria is a refreshingly practical, down-to-earth girl (in this context, a real-life Maria would have to be). Mr. Ivan does them a disservice in the pieta by setting it amidst a forest of Jets and Sharks (they should be watching from the aisles in requiem fashion); if you can rubberneck around them, you’ll find it a moving tableau; on the other hand, “Tonight” is gorgeously staged and sung on a catwalk with the famous North Shore pin lights coming into play --- for a few heady minutes, the stars stop crossing and twinkle down their blessing.

"West Side Story" (28 October - 23 November)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY, MA
1 (978) 232-7200

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