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BWW Review: The Engeman's Exquisite WEST SIDE STORY


Celebrating their 50th show, The John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport has mounted a truly exquisite production of the iconic Tony winning musical West Side Story. The tale, of course, centers on Maria and Tony in a modern day - 1957 modern day - Romeo and Juliet situation. Tony and his friends have formed The Jets, though when we meet Tony, he has since left the gang, while their arch enemies, The Sharks, is headed up by Maria's brother, Bernardo portrayed by Nikko Kimzin. Maria and Tony meet at a school dance and fall in love - forbidden in their worlds.

The Broadway caliber cast is absolutely divine under the fantastic direction of Igor Goldin. Zach Trimmer wonderfully portrays Tony and Long Island native Samantha Williams is stunning as Maria. They're a magnificent team and superbly sing the classic Leonard Bernstein (music)/Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) score. A heartbreaking number is their rendition of "Somewhere".

Also brilliant is Karli Dinardo as Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend. She and the girls did an astounding rendition "America" with energetic dancing choreographed by Jeffry Denman. Also a fantastic - and hilarious - performance is the guys' "Gee, Officer Krupke". They left the sold out audience in absolute stitches. Their altering impressions of Officer Krupke, facial expressions, and general pranks during the performance practically resulted in a standing ovation.

Another highlight is the set created by DT Willis. The large stage accommodates the site of the fights, Maria's corner house with balcony, and the iconic "Dance at the Gym" beautifully. This is enhanced gorgeously by Zach Blane's lighting design band Tristan Raines' dazzling costumes complete with Anita's fabulous purple dress. Additionally, it is always thrilling to have a live orchestra; this one strongly led by music Director James Olmstead.

To put it plainly, West Side Story is indeed another "must see" for the Engeman Theatre. Is it a cheerful story? No. Is this show done consistently? Sure. Nonetheless, created is a thrilling story for the ages and this incarnation is one that the creators would be incredibly proud of and should not be missed.

West Side Story is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through November 8th. Based on a conception of Jerome Robbins, Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Directed by Igor Goldin, Choreography by Jeffry Denman, Scenic Design by DT Willis, Costume Design by Tristan Raines, Lighting Design by Zach Blane, Sound Design by Laura Shubert, Hair & Wig Design by Leah Loukas, Prop Design by Eric Reynolds, Casting by Wojcik/Seay Casting, Stage Management by Sarah Hall, Music Direction by James Olmstead, Associate Choreographer Lauren Cannon, Assistant Director/Fight Choreography by Trey Compton. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit

Photo by Michael Decristofaro; Samantha Williams & Zach Trimmer as Maria and Tony in West Side Story

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