Monday, October 19, 2015

theatre review - WEST SIDE STORY - Arizona Broadway Theatre - October 16, 2015

Brittany Santos and Jesse Michels
photo courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre
Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 15th.

"With the perfect combination of drama, music, and dance, and containing some of the best-known theatre songs, it is easy to see why West Side Story is considered a classic musical and is loved by so many. With a very good cast and fluid direction, Arizona Broadway Theatre is presenting a solid production of this musicalized, updated version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet....The score contains some of the most well-known musical theatre songs, including the ballad "Something's Coming," the comical numbers "I Feel Pretty" and "America," and the lovely duet "Tonight." There isn't one bad song in the score of this show. Bernstein's exceptional music is complemented by Sondheim's witty lyrics and each musical number adds to the character development and plot. Even the dream ballet of "Somewhere" is perfectly placed at the height of the tension and adds some beauty into the ugliness we've just experienced....While it is a heavy dance show, a few in the cast were a bit sluggish or out of sync in the delivery of a few of the more intricate steps at the opening night performance. Hopefully, this will be corrected with a few more performances under their belts. Jesse Michels and Brittany Santos are exceptional as Tony and Maria. They both exhibit the yearning and desire for something new and different to come into their lives. Their clear voices soar on their solos and come together beautifully on their numerous duets. They create a genuine and realistic couple, full of desire and love.... Melissa Rapelje is a firecracker as the feisty character of Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend. With guts and passion, she is engaging in her portrayal of this role, a part that is almost always a major highlight of any production...Director Kiel Klaphake adds plenty of original touches to this production....From the required raw emotions that bubble up to the many comical moments, Klaphake gets genuine performances from all of his cast as well...Choreographer Kurtis W. Overby has created plenty of original steps and weaves in a few of the famous original Jerome Robbins moves. While some of the new steps aren't quite as good as Robbins' original ones, and the dream ballet of "Somewhere" is a little unfocused, Overby's steps work well to bring the story, and the characters, to life. Creative elements are beautiful, with Jim Hunter's set and lighting designs painting the stage with a multitude of moody colors that help bring the somewhat depressed settings to life...West Side Story is a classic musical with a simple message of acceptance and tolerance at its core that is still relevant today. Arizona Broadway Theatre's production has a talented cast, beautiful creative elements, and clear direction, bringing this poignant story to life in a moving way. -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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