West Side Story

West Side Story

West Side Story

Theater West End

No one hates immigrants like the previous tribe of immigrants. A little assimilation makes for real visceral blood warfare, and that’s where we find the Polish Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Riff (Michael Cleary) and his buddies do some fine dancing, and then agree to dance on the faces of their enemies lead by Bernardo (Brandon Fabian Lopez). Riff wants insurance, so he works on recruiting Tony (Hale.) But Tony’s climbing the drugstore ladder and has no time for juvenile gang wars. Then he meets young Maria (Navarro) at dance; and no one thinks their young love is cute. Rather, it’s an insult to those looking to be insulted, and it’s gonna be a rough night at the unofficial Sharks and Jets after party. And as we know, polish sausage and plantains don’t mix well

I was at opening night, and there some rough edges. I give the ensemble dancing very high marks; we saw some amazing hang time. The Latin team felt cohesive and defensive with Lopez’ Bernardo a seething cauldron of ethnic anger. The Anglo dancers also set a high standard; early on one of them is thrown backwards and lands gracefully on the polished concrete floor. The romance was fine, but I never felt Tony committed to the gang fight. Thus, he was herded into fatale situation reinforcing the idea that the course of love never runs smoothly, but it does occasionally run with blood. The actor’s sound levels we rather high, but the backing band always sounded good as they delivered this Avant Garde sound track. It’s a good but not perfect show, but I suspect it will tighten up over the next few performances.

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