WEST SIDE STORY Review

Links to all reviews can be found using the REVIEWS link at the top of the page. Blog postings, links and more are available on my Facebook fan page. You can also receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.

WEST SIDE STORY presented by The Carnegie through Jan. 18. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

Mambo. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Mambo. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

One of the greatest strengths of this production if the high-energy and physically-challenging choreography by Jay Goodlett. Even better is a cast young and talented enough to pull it off. “The Prologue” and “Mambo” are well-done and very enjoyable to watch. Also very strong was the orchestra, with music direction by William White.

Layan Elwazani as Anita & Tina deAlderete as Rosalia. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Layan Elwazani as Anita & Tina deAlderete as Rosalia. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

From a performance standpoint, Layan Elwazani does excellent work as Anita. Elwazani has a beautiful voice and creates a believable, vulnerable and strong-willed character. With Layan leading one trio and Tina deAlderete the other, “America” was extremely well-done and my favorite musical theater number in the show. The number also showcases the great costume work by Joy Galbraith.

The Sharks and the Jets. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

The Sharks and the Jets. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Also turning in strong performances are Brian Bailey as Jet leader Riff and Darnell Benjamin (He sings? He sings!) as Bernardo. Both were believable in their leadership roles, and I liked how they played off each other in front of their gangs.  Also, great character decision-making by Jeremy Long in the small but mighty role of Glad Hand. Very funny and great way to play-off the prop coming apart in your hands, without missing a beat.

Brandon Huber as Baby John, Drew Simendinger as A-Rab, Brian Bailey as Riff, Tyler Kuhlman as Action & Keaton Eckhoff as Snowboy. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Brandon Huber as Baby John, Drew Simendinger as A-Rab, Brian Bailey as Riff, Tyler Kuhlman as Action & Keaton Eckhoff as Snowboy. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

I would have liked to have seen the supporting gang members, especially the Jets, to have stronger characterizations. For me, they didn’t stand out as individuals with differing personalities. This would have helped the energy and fun of “Officer Krumpke” if it was a bit more character-driven. As the only comedic-break in the dark second act, I would also have liked this number to be moved more downstage and played out.

For audience members in the first several rows, the staging of the ensemble version of “Tonight” was difficult to fully appreciate. With the gang members so close, they tended to overwhelm the other vocals, so we weren’t getting much of a vocal blend.

Marcus Shields as Tony & Abigail Paschke as Maria. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Marcus Shields as Tony & Abigail Paschke as Maria. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Marcus Shields and Abigail Paschke both have beautiful voices as leads Tony and Maria. In his acting, I did find Shields to be emotionally flat. The chemistry between the two came close a couple of times, but during their duets their focus seemed to be the vocals and not the characters.

Overall, a strong and entertaining production. The performances have been selling strongly, so ticket availability may be limited. Student rush tickets have also been announced, where students and faculty can purchase tickets for $10.

My rating: 3.75 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

One response to “WEST SIDE STORY Review

  1. Steve

    i thought you were too nice. I thought Maria and Anita were the only saving grace about this production. The choreography was great but the acting was so uneven and I thought the direction was bad. Tony couldn’t act and his voice was completely devoid of emotion. I thought the costumes were too muted for the Sharks. I had a hard time telling them apart during the opening. And Brian Baily was too old and physically didn’t look like his character at all.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.