Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of WEST SIDE STORY at Milwaukee Rep?

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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of WEST SIDE STORY at Milwaukee Rep?

Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents West Side Story, the iconic American musical from Broadway visionaries Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, in the Quadracci Powerhouse, September 17 - October 27, 2019.

Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling the Ticket Office at 414-224-9490 or in person at the Ticket Office, 108 E. Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee.

Let's see what the critics are saying!

Kelsey Lawler, BroadwayWorld: As the house lights flicked back on, it took all my concentration to compose myself. I left the theater searching my brain for the last time I'd been so moved. So bowled over by choreography. So impressed by staging. The last time I was so caught up in the thrill of the action and romance that I kept holding my breath. I know I've felt similarly at other Milwaukee-area productions, but the specifics escape me. All I know is this West Side Story is unforgettable.

Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel: The dazzling movement and fantastic period clothing (costume design by Alexander B. Tecoma) don't keep innocent Maria (Liesl Collazo) and wistful Tony (Jeffrey Kringer) from spotting each across the room - and across gang boundaries. This Juliet and Romeo want to transcend what life has offered them so far, as they express in solos and duets that are nearly operatic, and for a little while both will get what they want. Jacob Burns, as Riff, and José-Luis Lopez Jr., as Bernardo, make convincing gang leaders. It's easy to understand why others would follow them. Good casting in this production has made some minor Jets and Sharks both young and timid-looking, reminding us that they are still kids.

Dominique Paul Noth, Urban Milwaukee: One stretch in the first act -"Something's Coming" to "Dance at the Gym" to "Maria" to the balcony scene to "America" to "Cool" - set a formidable future standard for the Milwaukee Rep. Aided by Yael Lubetzky's remarkable lighting patterns, choreographer Jon Rua has not been afraid to play with the original Robbins choreography for a three-sided stage, while Todd Edward Ivins' stage design has cleared the front and uses mobile props and upstage scaffolds, balconies and wire fences to rotate the action swiftly. There may be some sound wizardry at work but that should not detract from huzzahs for the six piece orchestra led by Dan Kazemi. Technically the production feeds back into Clements' vision. Rather than showing off, each element is subtly integrated.

Caitlin Elftman, On Milwaukee: When it comes to sharing my thoughts on The Rep's production, this review of "West Side Story" may be among the shortest I have ever had the honor of writing for OnMilwaukee. That's because I feel that you may be bored of hearing me try to think of additional adjectives for "spectacular," "extraordinary," "sensational" and "brilliant." Mr. Knightly perhaps summed up my speechlessness best in his declaration of love to the heroine at the end of Jane Austin's classic novel "Emma:" "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

John Jahn, Shepherd Express: Mounting a successful production of this large-scale work is no mean feat. It requires a highly talented young cast capable of dramatic acting, athletic dancing and fine singing-not just in the main roles but in numerous supporting roles. Thankfully, The Rep's production has found precisely that. First and foremost, the doomed lovers, Maria and Tony, are brilliantly played by Liesl Collazo and Jeffrey Kringer; their budding love touching and believable; their duets and solos gorgeously rendered. Other stand-outs include José-Luis Lopez Jr. (Bernardo), Courtney Arango (Anita), Jacob Burns (Riff), Jonathan Wainwright (Lt. Schrank/Glad Hand) and James Pickering (Doc). Truth be told, the entire cast is superb, and The Rep's production of West Side Story is top-notch.

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