WEST SIDE STORY
Based on a conception by Jerome Robbins
Based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Plaza Theatre Company
Directors – JaceSon and Tina Barrus
Stage Manager – Lindsay Batt
Assistant Stage Manager – Monica Glenn
Music Director/Choreographer – Tabitha Ibarra
Assistant Choreographer – Nolan Moralez
Fight Choreographer – Luke Hunt
Set Design – Wendy Rene Searcy
Sound Design – G. Aaron Siler.
Set Construction – Parker Barrus, Cameron Barrus
Costume Design – Tina Barrus
Props – Soni Barrus
Action: Toby Q
Anybodys: Michelle Stahlecker
A-rab: Landon Denman
Baby John: Luke Boyce
Clarice: Emmie Vaughn
Diesel: Adam Saunders
Graziella: Eden Barrus
Lois: Hannah Nickerson
Minnie: Maddie Almond
Pauline: Brandon Carlton
Riff: Stephen Singleton
Snowboy: Nate Frederickson
Tony: Bradley McKinney
Velma: Tabitha Ibarra
Anita: Megan A. Liles
Anxious: Gabe Tarron
Bernardo: Nolan Moralez
Chino: Alvaro Aguilar
Consuela: Emma Dalley
Estella: Brisa Wattleworth
Francisca: Autum McKee
Indio: Ethan Leake
Luis: Josh Monk
Maria: Paulette Cocke
Pepe: Sam Tarron
Rosalia: Alex Owens
Teresita: Lena Moralez
Doc: Bud Gillett
Glad Hand: Rodney Hudson
Krupke: Jacob Humphries
Lt. Schrank: Christopher Combest
Somewhere Soloists: Miranda Barrus, Braedon Carlton
Reviewed Performance: 5/26/2018
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
West Side Story is the timeless story of love and conflict, based on the Bard's Romeo and Juliette, and is as relevant today as ever. Racial tensions, hatred and bigotry are, unfortunately, just as alive today as they were in the 1950s.
JaceSon and Tina Barrus set out to do justice to this unforgettable tale of rival gangs and forbidden love, and they surpassed their goal. They assembled a top-notch team of designers, choreographers and talent, and produced something that was utterly beautiful. The message that violence is not the answer came through loud and clear, delivered through an extraordinary performance.
Music director and choreographer, Tabitha Ibarra, did a superb job. The vocals were well-balanced and easy to understand. The dance routines were a perfect combination of bubble gum sock hop, fosse drama, and modern jazz. The way she and assistant choreographer, Nolan Moralez, wove stage directions into the choreography was impressive.
The fight choreography by Luke Hunt was is nicely done. At no point was I reminded it was just acting. At times, the line between dancing and fighting was blurred to the point that I am positive Ibarra and Hunt had to have worked together on it.
Wendy Rene Searcy's set design and Soni Barrus' props were top notch. Each scene was simple, but the setting was clear and everything on the stage had a purpose. My only concern there was for any patrons whose view may have been blocked by a dress mannequin.
Tina Barrus' costumes were delightful and fitting for the period. The rolled up blue jean legs with white socks, the circle skirts and ponytails, and the suits and ties at a school dance all made me feel 9 years old. All that was missing was a carton of cigarettes in someone's t-shirt sleeve.
G. Aaron Siler's sound design was perfect and inconspicuous. It added a wonderful blend of ambient sounds and orchestrations, and was the perfect volume for the setting. Siler's use of the surround sound was amazing.
As Maria, Paulette Cocke's voice was simply angelic. Her high soprano notes were pure and sweet, even those difficult soft notes. I could easily understand the words, which can be tricky in such a high range.
Tony (Bradley McKinney) seemed almost too nice to be a former gang member. This served him well when he attempted to stop the rumble and when he needed to reconcile with Maria. He did a very nice job. His solo in Maria made me want to sing along.
Stephen Singleton (Riff) and Moralez (Bernardo) displayed impressive dancing and singing chops. Their acting was totally magnificent, and the fight choreography between the two was executed flawlessly. Their characters’ animosity toward each other, as well as their mutual distrust of law enforcement, was obvious.
Anita (Megan A. Liles), Bernardo's girlfriend, was the perfect confidant and sidekick. She was even willing to venture into Jets territory, putting herself into harm’s way, to deliver a message from Maria to Tony. Her singing was nice and her acting totally believable.
The Jets were entertaining in Gee, Officer Krupke and intriguing in Cool (with Riff on the lead). The Shark girls were delightful in both America and I Feel Pretty. The entire cast gave a top notch performance in the Dance at the Gym, and Miranda Barrus and Braedon Carlton’s duet of Somewhere was breathtaking.
This performance moved me to tears, and I recommend everyone see this show. It is the essence of storytelling through artistic expression.
West Side Story runs through June 22 at the Plaza Theatre Company.
For tickets and information go to http://plaza-theatre.com or call 817-202-0600.