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(Based on a conception by Jerome Robbins)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents
Entire Original Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins

Granbury Theatre Company

Directors—Bentleigh Nesbit and Nolan Moralez
Music Director—Haley Twaddell
Choreographer—Nolan Moralez
Scenic Designer—William Byrum
Lighting Designer—Whitney Shearon
Sound Designer –Kyle Hoffman
Costume Designer – Devon Kleine
Properties-Maddie Almond
Fight and Intimacy Choreographer—Jonah Hardt

Tony—Cameron Vargas
Maria—Lucy Almada
Riff—Jarrett Self
Bernardo—Bryant Huggins
Anita/”Somewhere” Soloist—Fatima Flores
Chino—Alvaro Aguilar
Action—Garrett Hollowell
A-Rab—Kendrick Booth
Baby John—Thomas Powderly
Diesel—Ben Rongey
Pepe—Griffin Bruce
Indio—Danny Tran
Luis—Emma Brandenburg
Nibbles—Eli Poole
Graziella—Eden Barrus
Velma—Makenna Clark
Minnie—Victoria Trimble
Clarice—Ellie Anderson
Pauline—Molly Pruetz
Peggy Jean—Rachel Mastick
Anybodys—Hannah Beth Baker
Rosalia—Edyn Esquivel
Consuela—Abigail Garcia
Teresita—Julia Huggins
Francisca—Devan DeLugo
Estella—Sofi Warren
Doc—Micky Shearon
Schrank—Dan Powderly
Krupke/Glad Hand—Rodney Hudson
Jet Male Swing—Gavin Clark
Jet Female Swing—Rachel Mastick
Shark Male Swing—Nolan Moralez
Shark Female Swing—Sofi Warren

Reviewed Performance: 6/26/2022

Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Based on the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story has become one of the classics of contemporary musical theatre. The story has been told time and time again in many different ways. However, the premise always stays the same. It's the story of forbidden love, and a romance never prevails.

West Side Story has been referenced and parodied in many other mediums. From “Gee, Officer Krupke” being sung over and over again by a frustrated Larry David in the humorously R-rated HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm while being pursued by the police to this humorous reference in the hit 90’s television show, Frasier, when Frasier recalls that his father refused to take him to see West Side Story on his 8th birthday. Martin replies, “because of the gangs…that’s scary for kids.” Frasier argues, “even gangs that dance?!” Martin ends the conversation by quipping, “especially gangs that dance.” Without prior knowledge of West Side Story, none of these references would have garnered any laughs. From the original film adaptation in 1961 to the newest Steven Spielberg Oscar-nominated version in 2021, West Side Story continues to find space in the annals of musical theatre productions-and honors the phenomenal collaboration between Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.

Before diving into my critique of Sunday’s Granbury production, I would like to preface this review by providing a bit of commentary and insight on some of the casting choices made in this musical. West Side Story has a specific set of casting standards- per the story. The tension and conflict between the Sharks and Jets come from the differing backgrounds that each group represents within the story. Each group fights for the territory of their neighborhood in New York City. The depiction of the struggles that immigrants face in America was very honest. Overall, Granbury Theatre Company did a satisfactory job of filling the needs of the specific casting standards that come with a musical such as this one. The characters were noticeably authentic, and I can say with some assurance, that GTC has done an adequate job of casting in this production. There is a plethora of talent on stage in this production, and the ensemble delivers in every aspect in their staging of this classic musical.

Directors Bentleigh Nesbit and Nolan Moralez brought together a fantastic ensemble and polished production team and crew who demonstrated an overall understanding and honest portrayal of these tough and misunderstood characters in New York City. The crew knit together scenery and lighting that enhanced the story being told by the characters. It is apparent to me that there was dedication and talent put forth by each actor and actress. What a tough piece of material to tackle- not only is the music and choreography difficult, but West Side Story has become one of the great classics of modern musical theatre-and audiences have a certain expectation of what they want to see on stage. One mistake or weakness could break the show. Overall, Nesbit, Moralez, and the company succeeded in creating a well-done and thoughtful production that was performed on Sunday afternoon.

Pulling triple duty was Nolan Moralez. Not only did Moralez co-direct, and create choreography, but Moralez also appeared on stage as a Shark. Moralez did a phenomenal job of paying homage to the original production choreographer, Jerome Robbins. It is apparent that Moralez has taken some of Mr. Robbins’ signature steps, and movements and incorporated both styles into an effective element of storytelling for the stage. Movements were clean and concise and were executed on stage well. The choreography was enjoyable to watch and brought the true element of “Big Broadway” to the Granbury Theatre Company stage. I am always fascinated by the choreography that GTC can execute on stage (especially with so many actors!) It is always very dazzling and show-stopping.

Set Designer William Byrum successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage of the Granbury Opera House into multiple locations. I am always struck with an element of surprise by how scenic designers can accomplish in a short amount of time, and with such precision for detail and care with their set creations. Byrum effectively utilizes the space, while also keeping the intimacy of the story. In a production with multiple locations, it can sometimes be difficult to fully invest in detail what conveys each location. The attention to these details was inspiring. At times, I feel that this can be one of the most difficult tasks for a scenic designer to tackle. Scenic designers are presented with the challenge of figuring out how to transform the space into something versatile that allows the audience to see all areas of the stage, while also allowing for constant scene and location changes. Byrum did a fantastic job conquering these challenges and obstacles that go along with both areas. The scenic changes were seamless and executed with ease. The scenic design was effective and provided a wonderful backdrop to an intense and dramatic story. His scenic design was exactly what was needed-they did not distract from the action in the story, or the characters on stage, he enhanced it.

Costumes were designed by Devon Kleine. Overall, the wardrobe was exactly what I would expect for a production like this-colorful, similar to the film, and reminiscent of the period. Each character had a unique costume that helped to identify who each character was and also allowed audiences to associate their character with the dramatic themes happening within the story. The costumes were very colorful and worked very well within the scenic design. Costumes were designed and executed with detail and care.

Cameron Vargas did a phenomenal job in the role of Jet’s leader, Tony. Through vocal intonation, facial expressions, and a youthful boyish charm, Vargas successfully was able to portray the dual role of a misunderstood street tough, struck by love, the love of the forbidden heart of Maria, sister to Bernardo (leader of the rival gang, The Sharks.) His role was the most intense, and his presence on stage was constant. Vargas had some very intense and believable moments on stage, and I was blown away by his vocal performance. There were some breath-taking harmonies with Maria (played beautifully by Lucy Almada). Not only was I impressed with Vargas’ performance, but his vocal performance also carried me away. His rendition of “Maria” took my breath away. Vargas was very charming on stage, and his best interpretation of Tony was the best that I have seen in a very long time. Vargas rivals the performances of many of Broadway’s leading actors. I look forward to seeing what he does in future roles.

In contrast to Vargas’ performance of Tony, Lucy Almada was very convincing as the young and innocent Maria. Her stage presence was nearly constant, never faltering in her delivery. Almada’s vocal delivery was consistent, and she provided the audience with some very light-hearted moments, set to a very serious backdrop of the plot. Almada had a lovely innocence on stage and was consistently enthusiastic on stage. Her operatic voice was most impressive. Brava!

Another standout was Fatima Flores in the role of Anita. With a strong stage presence and a marvelous singing voice, Flores displayed some nice chemistry on stage with Bernardo (played impressively by Bryant Huggins) and the youthful Maria. Flores never faltered in her delivery and allowed the audience to see the more heart-wrenching moments of lost love, and the segregation of Americans and Puerto Ricans at a less than accepting time in New York. It was positively heartbreaking in the penultimate scene to see Anita turn her back on the young love and innocence of Maria, as she tells Tony that Maria will never return for him. Flores delivered an innocent and honest performance of “Somewhere”-one of my favorite musical numbers from the production. Her performance, combined with the dream-like sequence of the entire cast was an elegant snapshot of musical theatre.

Bryant Huggins was remarkable in the role of Bernardo. It was very hard to find his character likable, but this was certainly not the case for Huggins. He brought a genuine gruffness to the character and was a nice contrast on stage to Vargas’ portrayal of Tony, and the brusque Riff (played by Jarrett Self.) Huggins made the tension on stage extremely dramatic, and very intense. It was enjoyable to watch his performance on stage. I felt great sympathy for Bernardo throughout his time in the story. This is due to the many spectra of emotions displayed by Huggins.

The most humorous moment of the production was the Jets’ performance of “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Standout performers in this number were Garrett Hollowell as Action, Ben Rongey as Diesel, Micah Chesney as Baby John, and Kendrick Booth as A-Rab. While poking fun of the gruff Officer Krupke and singing about the reasons that led them to join a gang. Full of puns and chock full of wordplay, the boys of the Jets integrate physical humor, facial expressions, and fantastic timing to make this number one of the most memorable of the entire afternoon. Poor Officer Krupke (as he is told to “krup off”)-still one of the best ways to end a musical number…in perhaps all of Broadway history.

This version of West Side Story staged by Granbury Theatre Company is indeed worth seeing. GTC checks off all aspects and requirements in making this musical a must see. Not only is it a revered piece by the genius talents of Bernstein, Sondheim, and Laurents, but it will also introduce audiences to a classic, yet tragic Shakespearean love story. You don’t have much time to see West Side Story at Granbury Theatre Company, like the romance between Tony and Maria, the engagement will be short-lived.

Granbury Theatre Company
Plays through July 10.

133 E. Pearl Street, Granbury, Texas 76049

Fridays at 7:30 pm
Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm

**Special Performance on Monday, July 4, 2022, at 2:00 pm**

Floor $35 - Balcony $30
Discounts are available for seniors (aged 65+), active duty military/veterans, and children/students.
Group discounts are available through Box Office at (817) 579-0952.
To purchase tickets, visit