WEST SIDE STORYBook by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
North Texas Performing Arts Repertory Theatre
Maria – Lizzy D’Apice
Tony – Hunter Martin
Anita – Lorens Portalatin
Riff – Tevin Cates
Bernardo – Tomas Moquete
Action – Toby Q.
Anybodys – Brooke Riley
A-rab – Hunter Douglas
Baby John – Will Shafer
Snowboy – Kade Owens
Diesel – Patrick Britton
Chino – Anthony J. Ortega
Doc – Doug Fowler
Consuelo – Megan A. Liles
Rosalia – Nicole Palmer
Francesca – Jessica Lomas
Teresita – Arisha Ramseur
Pepe – Michael Valderas
Indio – Dominic Rodriguez
Schrank – Oz Krakowski
Krupke/Gladhand – Chris Edwards
Velma – Isabell Moon
Gratziella – Nancy Ward
Minnie – Sophie Pritzkau
Director – Daniel Dean Miranda
Music Director – Bethany Lorentzen
Choreographer – DeeDee Munson
Stage Manager – John Jovivich
Fight Choreographer/Dance Captain – Tevin Cates
Fight Supervisor – Mick McCormick
Set Design – Jo Alamares
Costume Design – Tess Cutillo
Sound Design – John Jovivich
Light Design – Andrew Makepeace
Marketing/PR – Lisa Rodenbaugh, Shanti Shahani de Venegas
Booth Operator – Brealyn Heatchcock
Spoltlight Operaator – Kayla Douglas
Front of House Manager – Tammy Thies
Set Build Team – Jo Alamares, Alex Rain, Eddie Park
Video Intern – Alex Duva
Photographer – Karl Alamares
Reviewed Performance: 7/20/2019
Reviewed by Joel Gerard, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I really enjoyed the performances by the two lead actors. Lizzy D’Apice plays Maria and from the minute she opened her mouth and started singing, I was completely enamored. She has a stunning soprano voice that really highlighted how beautiful the music is for this show. Ms. D’Apice is one of the best actors I’ve seen play Maria. Hunter Martin as Tony was also really excellent. His voice has quite a range and he sounded wonderful in the tender moments such as when he sang “Maria”. When they sang together on the duet of “Tonight”, their voices blended seamlessly and made this the best number of the show.
The supporting actors were also impressive. Tevin Cates as Riff is the best dancer in the show. His movements were sharp and lyrical. Mr. Cates is also credited as the fight choreographer and he did a great job with the knife fight in Act Two. He also had a great rapport with Mr. Martin in the scenes they shared together. Anita is probably the best role in the show, and Lorens Portalatin showed she has great range. At one point, she did a cartwheel and the splits in a tight red dress while dancing. She proved she can play funny, like in “America”, and also grieving, like in Act Two. There’s a difficult scene in Act Two that deals with sexual assault. It was handled appropriately and with grace by Ms. Portalatin. Tomas Moquete plays Bernardo, the leader of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks. Bernardo is a lover and a fighter. I liked Mr. Moquete’s intensity he brought to his scenes, and he excelled in the fight choreography too.
Special mention goes to Megan A. Liles for her rendition of “Somewhere” in Act Two. Her powerful vocals and emotionally stirring performance was a highlight of the show. Ms. Liles was also one of the best dancers and caught my eye during “America”.
The scenic design by Jo Alamares left quite a bit to be desired. The right side of the stage had a door with a sign indicating Doc’s Drug Store. The left side had an upper platform used mostly as a fire escape and balcony area. The middle section looked like a brick building you would see in New York City, but there was half of a door at the bottom that was very odd. I assume that it was meant to be a forced-perspective view at a building from far away, but the tiny windows didn’t match with the strange upper half of a standard size door. All the set pieces were covered in a red brick pattern, but it was ultimately very bland to look at. It would have been nice had there been more visual interest to the pieces, like maybe some street signs or kitschy vintage 1950’s drug store signage.
The costume design by Tess Cutillo was a mix of interesting choices. The costumes for the men fared better than the ones for the women. The men had period appropriate looking jeans, white t-shirts, and jackets. However, the majority of the women’s costumes didn’t look appropriate for the mid-1950’s setting. Anita wore a red dress in Act One that looked pretty close to accurate, but one of the Puerto Rican girls wore a tank top in several scenes that had words printed on it that said “I understand. I just don’t care”. It was definitely not something that looked like it would have been worn in the 1950’s, it looked like it came from Hot Topic last week.
It seems that choreographer DeeDee Munson attempted to use a lot of the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, for which he won a Tony award in 1957. Aside from a couple actors, the ensemble just wasn’t up to the task of performing this iconic Broadway piece. The opening number of Act One is a dance number with the two gangs and is meant to set up the rivalry and show them interacting with each other. Unfortunately the execution was sloppy, dancers were not in sync, and it was practically incoherent what was happening. Two other dance numbers, “America” and “Gee, Officer Krupke”, also would have been better with sharper movements and tighter choreography. However, I was very pleased with the big dance number in Act One that was “The Dance at the Gym”/”Promenade”/”Mambo”. This sequence was the most polished and well-executed number.
West Side Story is a seminal piece of musical theatre history and remembered fondly for the classic songs and the dancing. North Texas Performing Arts Repertory has a good cast of actors and singers. But the choices and execution by the designers and the production team ultimately make this a less successful production.
WEST SIDE STORY
North Texas Performing Arts Repertory
Willow Bend Center of the Arts, Rodenbaugh Theatre
6121 W. Park Blvd. B216, Plano, TX, 75093
July 19th – 27th, 2019
Tickets: For dates, times, and ticket information go to ntparep.org or call the box office at (972) 422-2575.