West Side Story, The Modern Day retelling of Romeo & Juliet is probably one of the greatest stage musicals ever written. It is additionally a very important lesson about our negative opinions of people who are different than we are and the consequences these opinions can have.
With that in mind, I had high expectations for the current tour of this production, and it does not disappoint. West Side Story is the State Fair Musical this year, a production that is typically attended by a high number of fair goers and families. This was a great choice for the State Fair, giving parents the opportunity to introduce the kids can be exposed to this very important piece of work.
With Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim West Side Story has quite a pedigree. This production lives up to what you should expect from names like these.
While I was initially worried as the show opened, I later realized the show intentionally builds intensity throughout and this only adds to the power of this show. This show doesn't really begin until Anita and Maria enter. Once they do this show enthralls to the end.
The story is fresh and modern with content that would not have ever even have been considered for the original production. The scene in Doc's where the Jets' attack Anita was intense, but really shows how our prejudices can make us do horrible unthinkable things.
“Tonight” offers probably the best moment of musical theater I have ever experienced. The way they create four separate scene's simultaneously is unlike anything I have ever experienced and this number alone is worth the cost of admission.
The sets, while Broadway caliber are simple allowing the audience to focus on the story. Sadly, the story and the lesson it teaches are as needed today as it was back in the fifties. As I watch this show, I am reminded of the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I can only imagine the delicate balancing act it was to bring home this important story while allowing the audience to have fun while learning. Here they have hit the nail on the head.
Every song is a classic.
Michelle Aravena is sassy as Anita. The time she spends on stage is electric. The chemistry between Ross Lekites as Tony and Evy Ortiz is amazing, The connection between these two onstage is so great that the first time they see each other, they dance and without a word, you can feel the connection, the emotion. By the time they make it to “Tonight” you will be rooting for their love.
Every year the State Fair Musical has a lot to live up to, expectations are high as this will be the most seem production of the entire season. Once again, Dallas Summer Musicals has delivered.
West Side Story plays the Music Hall at Fair Park through the 23rd. Tickets are $25.00-$85.00 and available at Ticketmaster. Next season at the Dallas Summer Musicals is big. They are bringing LaCage (with George Hamilton no less), Memphis, Mama Mia and the State Fair Musical is The Adams Family. Season tickets are on sale now at www.dallassummermusicals.org. Coming next my review of K. D. Lang with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and I talk with the Original Weather Girl Martha Wash.
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