BWW Reviews: WEST SIDE STORY Delivers Something Good at Music Circus

BWW Reviews: WEST SIDE STORY Delivers Something Good at Music Circus

When Music Circus presented a spectacular production of "Big River" earlier this summer, it seemed nothing could top it. A few weeks later, "West Side Story" has come "cannonballing down through the sky, gleam in its eye, bright as a rose." Playing through Sunday at California Musical Theatre's Wells Fargo Pavilion, the Romeo-and-Juliet-based musical takes its audience for an emotional ride that builds tension with skill and moves in strides with hope and heart.

Diane Laurenson's clever choreography uses the round stage to its unique advantage as the Jets and the Sharks face off. When Maria and Tony - each from a different side - fall in love, the two join "One Hand, One Heart" and believe in a future without hate and racial confrontation. Laurenson adds a softer touch to her gymnasium meeting and dream ballet, which, coupled with David Neville's light design, make for some exceptionally beautiful and poignant moments.

Author Laurents' script, Leornard Bernstein's music and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics highlight themes of identity and community still relevant today. The Music Circus cast handles their challenging material deftly, with a natural pace and a strong conviction. Next to a youthful and starry-eyed Justin Matthew Sargent as Tony, Carolann M. Sanita steals the show as Maria with her impossible to miss, opera caliber voice. Desiree Davar is striking as Maria's confidant, Anita, a role Davar played on Broadway. Shane Rhoades and German Alexander also give strong performances as the heads of each gang, Riff and Bernado. And Maria Briggs is memorable as tomboy, Anybodys.

The ensemble performs a list of unforgettable tunes that include "Tonight," "I Feel Pretty," "America," "Cool" and more. With extraordinary visual and acoustic value, this "West Side Story" is the "miracle due" that has come true. In the words of the great Sondheim, "Come on in. Don't be shy. Pull up a chair."


Through August 9
Music Circus

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