Creative, Abstract and a Pleasure to see: The Magic of West Side Story

Topher Wagner, Sentry Staff Reporter

With sports dominating extracurricular activities and after school events, some students may forget about the vibrant theater program that, year after year, never seems to disappoint. From the four theater classes and technical theater to the One Person Shows and yearly plays and musicals, many students immerse themselves in these activities with phenomenal results. This year was no different. The theater department’s original rendition of West Side Story wowed audiences and sold out the majority of its shows.

Like the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is a tale of forbidden love. The two main characters, Tony and Maria, are in love, yet they are divided by their two rival New York City gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Producer and head director, Theater Arts Teacher Carol Cadby, promised that they were going to create an original, different version of the classic story.

The show had an exciting start, with the Sharks and the Jets on opposite sides of the stage in a showdown that foreshadowed several intense scenes later on. Like most theater productions, the first half involved the entire cast. The choreography was captivating, with everyone doing something different. This was especially evident during the scene in Act One where the Sharks and Jets had a dance-off. Throughout the musical, the actors used group dances and songs, as well as the fight under the highway, to interact with the audience. A raised platform in the middle of the auditorium drew attention to several intense scenes in Maria’s bedroom. This was a very creative piece of blocking with full scenes being performed in the aisles as well.

Although predominantly an ensemble cast, several stellar performances deserve recognition. Seniors Fox Nelson and Hannah Murphy entranced the audience with their respective roles of Tony and Maria, singing and dancing in several superb interactions and bringing their characters to life on stage. Shark members, senior Federico Penella (Bernardo) and sophomore Emily Anderson (Anita) had a clever, humorous banter. For the Jets, memorable performances came from gang leader and Tony’s best friend Riff (senior Katy Scruggs), as well as senior Jacqui Anders as A-Rab and sophomore Dorothee Mulumba as Action. One of the more abstract parts of the play was that, in several scenes, both Tony and Maria had their own choirs of actors and actresses, miming their every move and harmonizing throughout what normally would have just been a solo. Maria’s chorus was intriguing and fun to watch, as was Tony’s. Freshman George Kent, seniors Warren McQueary and Sean Mullins and sophomore Zack Youcha did an outstanding job mirroring Tony’s movement by harmoniously singing together in a way that truly brought the scene together.

A performance that elicited both laughter and tears from the audience, this was a creative adaptation of the classic musical, West Side Story. The musical stuck generally to the same plot line with several added dances and songs, and left the audience raving about the professionalism of a show well done.  The performance represented the final curtain for many seniors. It was a terrific send-off for their successful theater careers.

After yet another spectacular show, we can only wait in anticipation for what will surely be another extraordinary spectacle next year.