April 15, 2009

West Side Story

This week I'm working at West Side Story. Last night was my first night there.

It's very good.

The Spanish speaking characters speak Spanish to each other. This is difficult to understand but makes perfect sense, that when alone, people who speak Spanish would not speak English with an accent but acutally converse in their native tongue.

Karen Olivo plays Anita. I am a big fan of hers. She dances great. She has a great sense of humor. And she's really good at combining acting with singing. She's the whole package and she's a lot of fun to watch. She originated the role of Vanessa in "In the Heights" where I first saw her.

Last night's show featured the understudies in the leading roles but if I hadn't known that I wouldn't have been disappointed. But I am looking forward to seeing the regular leads.

The dancing is spectacular. The sets are minimal. The performances are consistently great. The music is tremendous and the orchestrations are emotionally charged.

My only point of reference is a performance of West Side Story at Hofstra University, that I saw many, many years ago, by the Grey Wig theater group. As enjoyable as that was, it was not a Broadway production. It wouldn't be fair to compare.

If you were to ask me if this production was worth the full ticket price, I would have to advise you that West Side Story is definitely worth it.

Note: My favorite number in West Side Story is the "A Boy Like That" duet with Anita and Maria. Last night, I cried because it was so moving. The actresses were that good.

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