Broadway By The Bay knows how to put on a show.
It is amazing that our own local talent and musicians in this community theater can match most national Broadway touring companies. This production of “West Side Story” is a pure example of that fact. When the first notes of Leonard Bernstein’s music from “West Side Story” rises from the orchestra pit, with the 17 musicians under the baton of Sean Kana, we find it is an absolutely first rate orchestra and holds a starring position with its delivery of a stunning and difficult score.
Excitement and anticipation runs through the theater, whether you have or have never seen “West Side Story,” a new take on an old story almost 60 years old, which enthralled audiences throughout the world on Broadway and in the movies.
The plot is borrowed from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and is transported to the gritty west side of New York where gangs prevailed. Here we have the Puerto Rican “Sharks” and the white, lower class “Jets” vying for turf that neither one of them owns but feel is theirs. Arthur Laurents originally created the book for “West Side Story” more than a half century ago. The beautiful Sondheim songs and stunning Bernstein music fills the theater with memorable sounds with “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Maria,” “America,” “Somewhere” and “One Hand One Heart.”
Jerome Robbins’ choreography blasts out with Fourth of July effervescence and reinvented by Nicole Helfer with dancers who are well trained and energetic
Samantha Cárdenas as Maria wraps herself in the role with an innocent and believable performance. Nikita Burshteyn as Tony gives an award winning performance with a marvelous voice and fine acting. The young man, as they say in the business, has ”it.” We will no doubt see more of him on Broadway, in movies or on TV.
Director Amanda Folena recreates this musical /drama with precision and sensitivity. Scenic Designer Kelly James Tighe and Lighting Designer Joe D’Emilio brings an authentic feel for this part of the city with their innovative sets and lighting.
A little interesting trivia for “West Side Story” fans: The stage version was originally planned as a story about a Catholic boy falling in love with a Jewish girl. The working title was “East Side Story.” After the boom of Puerto Rican immigration to New York in the late 40s and 50s, the story was changed to “West Side Story” and opened on Broadway in 1957 for one of the longest running most award winning shows in Broadway history.
Be it Puerto Rican, white, black or green, Shakespeare and Laurents show how futile misunderstanding, feuds and discrimination can devastatingly change lives forever.
If you have never seen “West Side Story,” do yourself a favor and go and enjoy this well done classic. For those of you who are lovers of fine musicals, a performance of this “West Side Story” is guaranteed to be fulfilling.
“West Side Story”
Where: Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway Street, Redwood City
Through Aug. 30
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermissions
For reservations and information call 650-579-5565 or visit broadwaybythebay.org.
Golden Gate State Theatre
417 Alvarado Street, Monterey
For reservations and information call 831-649-1070 or visit goldenstatetheatre.com.