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Review: ‘West Side Story’ maintains high energy in unforgettable show

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

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Swarms of crowds were geared up for the Tuesday performance of “West Side Story” at the Ohio Theatre. Upon my arrival at the theater doors, I felt like a tiny guppy swimming with the throngs of people into the lobby.

After climbing a small flight of stairs to get to my section, I was graciously seated with a playbill and told to enjoy the show. The seats, while tightly packed, maintained their old-world charm as a glass-tiered chandelier sparkled from the ceiling.

Once the lights went down and the curtain went up, it was hard not to feel the energy from the Jets performer on the stage. The high-intensity performance continued throughout the entire production no matter which characters were on stage at any given moment. There was not one moment when an actor fell out of character or seemed to be “off.”

Jerome Robbins recognizable choreography was accurate and unforgettable. The modernized ballet used the entire stage while allowing the dancers to stay contained within their own personal space.

The music of the show took a backseat to the phenomenal dancing. While there were no real pitch or key issues with the vocals, the actual movement of the actors felt much more inspired.

One major issue that some people might be surprised to find while watching this performance is a language barrier. The plot focused on the constant opposition between Puerto Ricans and Americans in New York City during the 1950s and much of the dialogue and lyrics from the Puerto Rican characters is in Spanish.

While the Spanish was basic and the terminology was minimal, most of the vocabulary was Puerto Rican slang and hard to understand because of the accents that the actors put on so well.

Aside from the comprehensibility, other aspects of the show, such as costuming and set design, were transforming. I felt like I was in New York City with plenty of grays and blues for sets of fire escapes and the docks at night.

The costumes provided a contrast to the bleak sets with vibrant purple, yellow and orange, the Jets signature colors. The costumes ranged from tattered to tasteful and gave the audience one more thing to admire about the show.

One of the most memorable moments of the show was the gym scene. You’ll be brought back instantly to your hilarious first high school dance when teenage hormones started to rage.

All in all, the show is a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone from the Broadway buff to the shower singer.

Grade: A-

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