West Side Story Hits All the Right Notes at Westchester Broadway Theatre

Published: Friday, May 22, 2015 By: Barbara Solomon Josselsohn Source: All About Armonk


True, West Side Story wrestles with such difficult themes as bigotry, hatred, and gang violence; but it’s the powerful dancing and lovely singing that take center stage in the production of this classic musical that opened last month at Elmsford’s Westchester Broadway Theater.
    
With its tragic tale of star-crossed lovers from rival New York City gangs, West Side Story is a staple for theatergoers. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it premiered on Broadway in 1957 and has been frequently revived ever since, both on and off the Great White Way. Thanks to music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it features unforgettable songs including the beautiful ballads “Tonight” and “Maria”; the edgy “Cool”; the biting “Gee, Officer Krupke”; and the sizzling “America.” The 1961 film adaptation earned ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The masterful Jerome Robbins choreographed the Broadway version and co-directed the film version – which also includes his choreography.
    
But even given this weighty legacy, the current WBT production feels remarkably fresh and exciting. The dance numbers are both lovingly familiar and enjoyably inventive, thanks to director/choreographer Barry McNabb, who says in the printed program that his dances feature both original sequences and “signature steps that an audience expects to see. ” The Sharks, the Jets, and all the girlfriends are strong dancers, and Allison Thomas Lee, as Anita, is mesmerizing. The opening number, “Jet Song,” which pits the Sharks against the Jets in an extended dance sequence, is electric; later numbers, such as “America,” “Gee Officer Krupke,” and “Somewhere Ballet,” do not disappoint.
    
As for the singing, Carly Evans, as Maria, has a clear and angelic voice, while Zach Trimmer, who plays Tony (and was also recently seen as Lt. Joe Cable in WBT’s South Pacific), has one that resonates with authority and elegance.
    
Overall, West Side Story on the WBT stage hits all the right notes  -- at times sassy, at times moving, and always gripping and powerful. It runs through July 5. For more information call the box office at 914-592-222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com

Armonk NY Daily News