Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On Barrington Stage's WEST SIDE STORY

Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On Barrington Stage's WEST SIDE STORYThe world's greatest love story takes to the streets in the landmark Broadway musical, West Side Story at Barrington Stage. The show began August 3, and runs through September 1.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern day New York City as two young lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, relevant and deeply moving musicals of our time.

Barrington Stage Company is a professional award-winning Equity regional theatre located in the heart of the Berkshires, in Pittsfield, MA. It was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and has a three-fold mission: to present top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways of bringing new audiences into the theatre-especially young people. Barrington Stage garnered national attention in 2004 when it premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's musical hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which later transferred to Broadway, where it won two Tony Awards.

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Steve Barnes, Albany Times Union: It's a testament to the authenticity realized by Boyd and her cast, all but three of whom are making their BSC debuts, that the script's 1950s lingo, including the nicknames some characters call each other, never sounds hokey or jarring. Instead, it's part of the illusion that transports us back to a time in New York City when "white" gangs, whose own immediate ancestors were themselves immigrants, warred with newer, "brown" immigrants from Puerto Rico.

Dan Dwyer, Berkshire Edge: Every musical number shines as much as every dance sequence enthralls. My favorites: the sassy "America"; a charming and winsome "I Feel Pretty"; and the underappreciated duet between Anita and Maria, "I Have a Love," with its dark, brooding melody. Unlike many beloved musicals, there's no show stopper here: The musical numbers flow one to another. Darren Cohen's musical direction is particularly effective in the underscoring scene shifts. Combined with Boyd's direction of stage movement, the first act from "Something's Coming" right through "Tonight" is seamless, creating a transportive effect unique to musical theater.

Mark G. Auerback and Benjamin Jacek, Westfied News: The performances, all rendered by young actors who can dance as well as they act and sing, are top notch. The ensemble made Robbins' and LaFosse's dancing look effortless, and they were on the beat in the complicated fight sequences. Will Branner's "Tony" is appealing, as is Addie Morales' "Maria", who has a delightful soprano voice. Skyler Volpe's "Anita" sizzles, and Sean Ewing's "Bernardo" and Tyler Hanes' "Riff" were superb.

Nancy Salz, iBerkshires: Barrington Stage has gone all out with this production. It has a cast of 27, and when they're all dancing, filling the stage with energy, grace and simply perfect body lines, I realized that even the latest Broadway revival in 2009 wasn't in the same league. The depth of talent is staggering.

Marc Savitt, BroadwayWorld: Pretty much every number in West Side Story is a winner. Crowd pleaser's in this production include "America" with a strong performance from Linedy Gineo as Rosalia, and "Gee, Officer Krupke" where Juan Caballer as Action really shines. "One Hand, One Heart" and "A Boy Like That" had tears running down many cheeks. Full company dance numbers "The Dance At The Gym" and "Somewhere" are both visually stunning, and breathtakingly beautiful.

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