West Side Story

This is a reprint of my remarks about ”West Side Story ” at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater presented in their Quadracci Powerhouse main stage theater during the 2019 – 2020 season. This originally appeared on my Facebook timeline September 21, 2019.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater opened the 2019 -2020 season on their Quadracci Powerhouse main stage with West Side Story. I don’t have to worry about spoiler alerts here…because as the premier American Musical, everyone pretty much knows the story. The current production is directed by the Rep’s Artistic Director, Mark Clements, who has brought musicals in force to the Rep stages.

With West Side Story you are always promised music and you get Leonard Bernstein…you are promised singing and you get the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim….you are promised dancing and you get dancing via Jerome Robbins. And that is all served here with enthusiasm and talent and oh my goodness…what a set!

So…what did I feel are the highlights? Liesl Collazo as Maria was spot on. I thought that her high point was during ‘I Feel Pretty’. Wow. And Jeffrey Kringer as Tony was exactly Tony! He certainly understood what it meant to feel and sing ‘Maria’! Thanks guys, you made this particularly memorable.

The two things that I didn’t expect that made me sit up and take notice? The dancing of Courtney Arango as Anita. She dominated the stage whenever she was dancing. She was smooth as silk and ravishing and dominant all at the same time.  I loved it. And Hope Endrenyl as Anybodys rendition of ‘Somewhere’ was breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting it and it was for me, the best part of the play.

The ensemble dancing was beautiful…fluid. Although in the first act when we meet the gangs…there are a few moments that seemed a little tentative, but that went away very quickly. And once again the Rep did an amazing job with all of the costumes…luscious colors and perfect patterns…and exactly 1950s!

And this had to be the hardest working set and stage crew outside of the Rep’s Christmas Carol Amazing!! And special thanks to the orchestra!!!

It runs until October 27th. If you’ve only seen the movie…get a ticket today!!

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