Adapted from William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," "West Side
Story" develops the tender, tragic love story of Tony and Maria around
the antagonism of rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.
Tony and Maria are torn from each other by the reckless disregard
between the groups. The story's tensions of antagonism and frustration
still echo today in the bloody fights between gangs and the latent racism
This production captures that toughness and ambiguity in the
emotional, physical dancing of the ensemble. The cast exorcises its
tensions in sensual moves that seem to occupy a part of the city rather
than a tiny stage.
Beautifully harmonized melodies and singing offer poignancy.
Many of the central performances also sparkle. Danielle Faretti shines
as the gentle, naive Maria. Tiny, with an expressive face, her soft
speaking voice, delicate soprano and shy demeanor capture the
vulnerability of the young lover.
Ramona Marshall embodies the passion of the fiery Anita through her
sensual dance moves, her sparkling personality and her confident
John Hemphill's Riff is a dynamic leader, full of charm, bravado and
bottled-up tension. Warm and easygoing around adults, he bristles with
menace when provoked to anger.
While possessing a strong tenor voice, David Rae's Tony is too
earnest, too uptight, to ever fully show why he so passionately loves
Director Tom Robinson has inspired his production staff to
authentically bring to life a crowded, edgy New York City neighborhood.
Technical Director Jaymes Wheeler employs rooftop skylights and fans,
hanging wash, a crowded sewing room and a tenement balcony to reflect a
gritty area of the city.
Rebecca Nibley's outstanding costumes capture the dichotomy of the
Gang members wear everyday clothes like jeans, T-shirts and sport
shirts. Partygoers wear colorful, fitted suits and frilly, sensual
dresses, suggesting conservative values are slowly breaking down.
A few technical problems mar the production. Singers occasionally lose
or lead the rhythm when singing to canned music.
Poor microphones hinder hearing the actors. Lines are occasionally
lost or garbled due to feedback and actors' distance from the
microphones. The music is too loud, sometimes overwhelming the singing.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Glendale Centre Theatre's production of "West Side Story."
directed by Tom Robinson, choreographed by Mark Knowles; book by Arthur
Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
WHERE: Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Saturday matinee
through April 7.
TICKETS: $16 to $19 with student and senior discounts.