BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki

BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki

As the beloved classic West Side Story has always been one of the pivotal musicals to play in many American high-schools nationwide, the city of Jakarta had the chance to witness the magnificent opus of Arthur Laurents, accompanied with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, as well as choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Under the roof of Jakarta Performing Arts Community (JPAC), Director Fonnyta Amran and the rest of her team from the production succeeded in bringing Jakarta theatre goers to Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki from the 12th to 14th May 2017. This mammoth of JPAC's 8th production which was fully licensed by the MTI (Musical Theatre International) managed to swoop the audience off their feet and take them to America.

JPAC's 8th production includes the main role of Tony played by Emir Aditya, the role of Maria portrayed by Chezia Aviola and Anita by Angelia Winata. I managed to watch the matinee performance with the alternate cast donning the respected roles.

The Tony Award Winning Musical, West Side Story tells tale of two feuding gangs, Jets and Sharks, marred with racial tension and prejudice. Tony (Elhaq Latief), former member of Jets and Maria (Ajeng Sharfina), sister of Sharks' leader Bernardo (Muhammad Hardyansyah), fell in love, but with little to no blessing from their family likely Bernardo's other half, Anita (Desmonda Cathabel Christie) nor their respective gangs such as Tony's best friend and leader of Jets, Riff (Nicholas Bunjamin). Their love story ignites disorder and tragedy.

West Side Story brings message of love, struggle, and the dangers of racial based prejudices which breeds violence. This story is a fitting reflection amidst the widespread of ethnicity, religious, race and intergroup relations conflicts that has recently turmoiled throughout the year.

As a young woman finally finding her other half but struck tragedy in the end, Ajeng Sharfina managed to amaze the audience with her vocal and acting skills. Not a single tear was unshed when the audience learned Maria (portrayed by Ajeng Sharfina herself), had her lover die in her own hands. Truly one of the highlights of the show.

BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki
Ajeng Sharfina (Maria) and Elhaq Latief (Tony)

Elhaq Latief, also being the choreographer of the show, filled the room exuberantly with his presence, and perfectly portrayed the sincere and sweet young man that Tony is. His chemistry with Ajeng belting songs like "Tonight" and "One Hand, One Heart" was unforgettable.

A fan favorite, Nicholas Bunjamin, portraying the role of Riff managed to amaze the audience with great articulateness and strong projection. Their depiction of the choreography made by Elhaq Latief himself was also on point, Same being said to Muhammad Hardyansyah playing the role of Bernardo.

BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki
Nicholas Bunjamin (Riff) during the "Cool" number.
BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki
Muhammad Hardyansyah (Bernardo) and Desmonda Cathabel Christie (Anita)

Desmonda Cathabel Christie was a scene-stealer. Sinking her shoes as Anita, a feisty woman who knows what she wants, it seemed that she was perfect for the role. With an equal amount of wittiness and sarcasm given a little extra by Desmonda, Anita made the whole audience cracking for her jokes and sarcasm.

BWW REVIEW : WEST SIDE STORY AT GRAHA BHAKTI BUDAYA, at Taman Ismail Marzuki
Desmonda Cathabel Christie (Anita)

A beautiful scene with a mix of contemporary dance and sweet melody sung by Shaquila Rahmadina during the song "Somewhere" pretty sure brought amazement to the audience and could be set as one of the portion of JPAC's West Side Story you definitely don't want to miss.

West Side Story brings message of love, struggle, and the dangers of racial based prejudices which breeds violence. This story is a fitting reflection amidst the widespread of ethnicity, religious, race and intergroup relations conflicts that has recently turmoiled throughout the year.

A well round-up musical isn't complete with other small but important components. The set, lighting design, and the colorful costumes complimented the story so well. There was a bit of a problem with the sound but it didn't distract the audience on witnessing this tragic story between the two lovers.

All in all, JPAC did justice to a musical classic. With an immensely talented cast and hardworking crew, they are on their way to paving the road for high quality musicals that Jakarta theatregoers can enjoy.

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