April 28, 2009

Pretty and Witty and Bright

I love dance. And I am always in awe of people who dance well and make it seem really easy. So it's not so surprising that I loved this show. In fact, I love it more than the movie. The choreography and staging of the dance sequence is so dynamic I found myself riveted. I don't think you get a sense of that in the movie. Just the prologue where the audience is introduced to the Jets and the Sharks and their ethnic war had them dancing all over the urban jungle set grabs your attention immediately. It's full of energy and very kinetic. That, and the score is the beauty of this production.

I did feel that the show's love story plot, taken from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, is a bit "forced" since Tony and Maria fall in love immediately after meeting at the dance (or maybe that's just me being jaded). But I'm willing to overlook that because of the phenomenal dancing in the show. Special mention made to Cody Green (who plays Riff). I first noticed his talent in the reality show Step It Up and Dance where he ended up winning the competition. Even then his dancing is so masculine and yet very graceful. It's even more evident in this production. I found my eyes being drawn to watch him during the dance sequences. Also equally quite impressive is Curtis Holbrook (who plays hot head Action) and George Akram (who plays Bernardo). For the girls it's scene stealer Karen Olivo (who plays Anita) that was remarkable. She doesn't only have a very impressive voice but lovely lines when she dances. My favorite number is America and Cool. Both are very exciting. I must also say that the chorus seemed to be enjoying performing together and dancing Jerome Robbin's intricate choreography.

Now to Tony and Maria. Josefina Scaglioni (who plays Maria) has a beautiful angelic voice and Matt Cavenaugh (who plays Tony) has a voice that could have one melt. They were good actors but I think the characters they play are the least developed in the story. Their characters seem one dimensional to me compared to Riff or Anita. I do agree with Lani that the age difference between the two is evident even where we were sitting high up in the mezzanine.

The set is stunning. It's an urban jungle. During the rumble part, wire fences came down to separate the stage from the audience and enclosed the cast. At the same time, a silhouette of the bridge overhead also descends from the rafters. It does take the audience to that setting or at least that was my experience.

Go see it. It's only once in a while an iconic piece such as this is produced. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did. For more info, check out the West Side Story site.

the poster on the side of the theatre

Some photos from the stagedoor:
Kyle Coffman (A-rab)
Joey Haro (Chino)

George Akram (Bernardo)

Sam Rogers (4H) and Mike Canon (Snowboy)

Curtis Holbrook (Action)

Josefina Scaglioni (Maria)

Matt Cavenaugh (Tony)

Karen Olivo (Anita)

Cody Green (Riff)

WSS stagedoor


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