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West Side Story

Jets and Sharks have taken over Clowes Memorial Hall as West Side Story closes the Broadway Across America 2012/13 season this week. The young cast brings the tried and true musical back with earnest renditions of “America” and “Tonight.”

The dance-heavy production adds some unique elements including a strange ballet dream sequence for “Somewhere” that puts the tomboy character of Anybodys front and center. It also turns the playfully light number “Gee, Officer Krupke” into a crasser fare. More successfully it incorporates a significant amount of Spanish into the lyrics of the songs and dialogue. This change helps highlight the differences between the cultures, giving the Puerto Rican scenes a distinct feel. A few characters, particularly Theo Lencicki as Riff, seemed to have a hard time finding their footing in their roles; he never quite clicked with the character.

When you’ve had the opportunity to see multiple productions of the same show, different plot points tend to stand out each time. In this show I noticed Tony’s journey more than I had in the past. Long before he meets Maria he’s become dissatisfied with gang life and he longs for something more. Tony, played by Addison Reid Coe, finds both his salvation and destruction in Maria’s love. Their naiveté and passion convinces them that they are invincible despite their situation. When combined with the ending, Tony's hopefulness struck me as particularly poignant in this performance.

The well-known score and beloved story hold up after decades of performances. The story itself, a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, holds up after centuries. There will always be strife between different groups. There will always be young lovers who come to tragic ends. For those who can sing along with every line or for those who are hearing Tony and Maria sing “Tonight” for the first time, the show is still a delight. There may be stronger productions with more seasoned actors, but the core story is solid and remains a delight.

Don't Miss the Show

The show runs until Sunday, June 9 at Clowes Memorial Hall so hurry to get tickets to the show. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, The Murat Theatre, by calling (800)-982-2787 or online at Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Broadway Across America will be back this fall with a fresh collection of shows. Up first is Flashdance and October. Check out the complete season here.

Photos Courtesy of Broadway Across America