Review Roundup: La Mirada's WEST SIDE STORY; What Did The Critics Have To Say?

By: May. 08, 2017
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Powerful, poignant and timely as ever, LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS & McCoy Rigby Entertainment present the fourth show of its 2016-2017 season, the most acclaimed musical of all time, WEST SIDE STORY, book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Leonard Bernstein with musical direction by Brent Crayon, choreography by John Todd and directed by Ovation award-winner Richard Israel. WEST SIDE STORY will preview on Friday, April 21, 2017 (with a press opening on Saturday, April 22) and run through Sunday, May 14, 2017 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada.

From the first notes to the final breath, WEST SIDE STORY is one of the most memorable musicals and greatest love stories of all time. As powerful, poignant, and timely as ever, the thrilling Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim score - including "Tonight," "Maria," "America" and the classic "Somewhere," remains one of the best ever written. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City, caught between warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

BroadwayWorld (Don Grigware): Thankfully the current production at La Mirada Theatre is the original, traditional staging with the theatrical ending in tact. The ensemble, under the exemplary direction of Richard Israel, is quite remarkable. It is such a joy to see young triple threats throughout the ensemble, in which there are no weak links. If these guys aren't dancer dancers, they sure could fool me with their unbounded energy and athletic leaps and bounds. One thing I particularly like in this production is that all the gang members are clean-shaven, for in the 50s guys were less likely to sport beards or moustaches, which is all the rage now.

OC Register (Eric Marchese): In La Mirada, the aggression and tension of the youth gangs is downright palpable. By today's standards, these gang members are pushovers, but for 1957, their mutual hatreds are real, and realistically lethal. As dated, yet as oddly charming, is the beatnik hipsterism the Jets feign, captured in song as Riff (Michael Starr) exhorts his pals to stay "Cool."

On Stage and Screen (Erin Conley): As always at La Mirada, the production value and performance quality was generally high, with the exception of a few unfortunate mic issues in act one, which was also a problem at the last show I attended. While the choreography and dancing were spirited, several numbers seemed designed to mask the shortcomings of those in the large 32-person cast who were singers first and dancers a distant second. In the lead roles, Egan and Marie had fine chemistry and made you believe in their ludicrously fast-moving love connection. While Egan occasionally struggled with the demanding vocal score, he looked the part of the leading man, making a character who is frustratingly idealistic and a bit dense as written seem appealing. Marie, whose clear soprano flutters effortlessly from her tiny frame, was lovely, making "I Feel Pretty" a highlight of the performance. As Anita, Maria's best friend, Marlene Martinez was the vocal standout of the cast, and arguably has the best emotional arc to play with. Her act two argument/duet with Maria, "A Boy Like That"/"I Have a Love" has always been a favorite of mine, and the two women did a fantastic job of conveying their complex emotions. Also worth mentioning is the humorous Jets number "Gee, Officer Krupke," a comedic highlight that allowed the ensemble to shine.

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