West Side Story Review

There were two new musicals that made auspicious debuts on Broadway in 1957. One was The Music Man, a DER_0180traditional story of love between a bunco artist named Harold Hill and Marion a local librarian in a small town in Iowa named River City.

The other was far from traditional. It was West Side Story, an innovative musical with extended dance scenes and complex music that focused on social problems in America.  Perhaps not surprisingly, The Music Man won a Tony Award as best musical that year but West Side Story has left a lasting legacy to the American theatre and has endured for almost 60 years now..

CenterStage has taken on the daunting task of presenting this complex musical, based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and has been successful. At the core of that success are the acting and singing of Andrew Newton as Tony and Kate Welsh as Maria.

Newton sings powerfully and does soaring justice to the classic “Maria.” Welsh takes “Tonight” to a higher level and reflects the early moments of a budding love affair with “I Feel Pretty.” Her Latino accent reflects the many differences between her life as a Puerto Rican growing up in New York and Tony’s more traditional background. The two are united by their love and the fact that they are outsiders.

Sparks fly between the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, and Tony’s Jets. Caught in the middle and representing the Establishment are Officer Shrank, a hard bitten cop played by Sam A. Mannino, and the clownish Officer Krupke, played by Kiel Dodd. Doc, played by Brian Martin, is Tony’s boss and mentor. The dance numbers reflect the frustrated energy of youth and the foreshadowing of the somber ending.

West Side Story has stood the test of time and it resonates in our own troubled era.
Buy your tickets while you can. Next up is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof playing September 15-25. There is still time to get 2016-17 season tickets, too. For information, go to jewishlouisville.org/centerstage or call 238-2709

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