Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Jim Corti
Choreographed by William Carlos Angulo
Musical Direction by Tom Vendafreddo
At Paramount Theatre, Aurora
Stunning production of West Side Story wonderfully sung and danced
Paramount Theatre continues their high standards with an amazingly powerful West Side Story. From the opening “Prologue,” we realize that West Side Story is a polished dance show that artfully blends Jerome Robbins’ original choreography with the manic additions by William Carlos Angulo into a spirited high-energy dance spectacular. We see innovative jumps, twirls, and synchronized movement with hints of classic ballet, modern jazz with some Latino movement, and fight twists added. These dances bring Leonard Bernstein’s pulsating jazz/Latino music to life. This cast still knocks out the intricate Robbins’ choreography style with thrilling abandonment.
We meet both gangs – The Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks as each act out their rivalry through dance in numbers like “Dance at the Gym,” “Cool,” and “America.” But as amazing as the dancers were, I was thrilled with the voices of all the principal characters. In his introductory song, “Something’s Coming,” Will Skrip’s Tony demonstrated his tenor vocal range, making him one of the best singers to play Tony that I’ve heard! Add the terrific vocals by Zoe Nadal as Maria, and we have a powerful and dynamic duo as the forbidden love interests.
But West Side story also need two other elements to make it worthy. The score by Leonard Bernstein must sound rich, melodic, and pulsating. Tom Vendafreddo’s 19 piece orchestra used the original orchestrations to give the production a rich full sound. The other element is, of course, the dancing. The Jets and the Sharks were populated by a fresh new group of energetic and skilled dancers who deftly performed the Jerome Robbin’s styled choreography, effectively enhanced by William Carlos Angulo.
With believable romantic sparks flying between Skrip’s Tony and Nadad’s Maria, especially in “Maria” and “Tonight,” the tragic elements are in place. The inevitable tragedy is dynamically presented through dance and powerful dramatic moments. Director Jim Corti’s tight, flowing production builds the tension toward the sad moments marvelously leaving us with a strong emotional reaction. His West Side Story is a master piece as it blends the finest elements of musical theatre to tell a classic story. West Side Story is one of those musicals that seems to find new ways to thrill us and reach into our heart. This production surely does that!
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 19, 2016
For more info checkout the West Side Story page at theatreinchicago.com
At Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, IL, call 630-896-6666, www.paramountaurora.com, tickets $41 to $54, Wednesdays at 1:30 & 7pm, Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5:30pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through April 2 4, 2016