Last evening my parents surprised me with tickets to see West Side Story for my birthday. The opening night, March 18th, happened to be on my birthday and so it seemed that it was meant to be.
West Side Story is a Romeo and Juliet-like story set in New York City in the 1950’s about a boy from the “jets”, Tony, and Maria, a Puerto Rican girl who’s brother is the leader of the sharks, the Jets nemesis. Despite this, Tony and Maria fall in love, but like Romeo and Juliet are bound for tragedy as the Sharks and the Jets fight for their “turf”.
West Side Story is a musical with social commentary that is still relevant today, though it was originally debuted in 1957. Tony is a retired member of the Jets, though he sometimes gives them a hand, and Maria is the sister of the Sharks leader, Bernardo. Despite all the prejudice surrounding Maria and Tony they do not see prejudice, they see only one another and their love.
Maria, played by MaryJoanna Grisso, and Tony, played by Jarrad Biron Green, were beautifully matched. Their voices soared together in songs such as “Tonight” and “Somewhere” and their chemistry was obvious. A great pair to play the two lovers.
The choreography in the many dance scenes was outstanding. From the colorful and lively scenes of “America” and “Dance at the Gym”, to the more graceful moments, the moves were executed beautifully. I found myself enchanted by the graceful dancing during “Somewhere”, set against a pale back drop with the cast dressed in light colors. “Dance at the Gym” showcased the two dance styles; it began with the lively dance moves displayed by the opposing gangs, but turns soft and romantic for a moment when Tony and Maria see one another and meet. Dance expresses so much in this story, so it was important to get it right, and get it right they did.
This was an amazing performance. If this national tour of West Side Story comes to a theater near you, I encourage you to make the trip to see it. There were laughs, excitement, tears, and song. A very good performance of the classic West Side Story.