Review: WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse

What did our critic think of WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse?

By: Jun. 05, 2024
Review: WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse
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Review: WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse Romeo and Juliet. Arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play. Most students study the play in high school, laboring over the heightened poetic language, but somehow falling in love with the story. So, when in 1957, an adaptation of that famous play called West Side Story, hit the stage on Broadway, it became one of the most famous and desirable adaptations of all time. Since then, audiences have demanded a classical approach in its restaging, longing for the classical lyrical and elaborate style and ready to hear the beloved songs soar out with passion. In their most recent production of West Side Story, the San Pedro Playhouse delivered that expectation with epic success.

Review: WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse

From the first steps of choreography that opened the show, Rafael Ferraras, the show’s choreographer, provided beautiful movement that reflected the classic style of West Side Story, while also introducing some fresh new moments that truly showcased the incredible dancing talent of the cast. I loved that he incorporated the snapping and clapping that we all wanted to hear in this show, and used the personalities of the characters to add nuance and finesse to the piece as a whole. In addition to the dance choreography, the fight choreography created by Nick Lawson was absolutely stunning. His use of ebb and flow, depth and height, slow and fast motion, somehow made those moments feel both stylized and realistic. This added to the staging of the show as a whole, as Rick Sanchez’s use of the space was fun and inventive. It was evident that he was highly detailed in his placement of scenes and relationship coaching. The musical direction, by Jaime Ramirez, provided smiles throughout the audience, as the stunning vocal performances were showcased in a well-blended and powerful way. 

Jillian Juliet Sainz, who played Maria, floored us with her vocal power that balanced nicely with the sweetness that Maria’s character demands. Anita, played by Sami Serrano, brought the perfect amount of sass and spunk to counter Maria’s softness. The two of them were a wonder to watch and brought tender moments that silenced us. Their duet, “I Have a Love,” was so powerfully soft, it left us breathless and wanting for better circumstances for these girls. I could mention so many performers, as there were several stand-outs, but I must mention Steve Burney, who played Doc. He was so realistic and believable, and I loved every moment he was onstage. Baby John, played by Logan Engel, also provided some wonderfully believable moments, alongside his Jets gang, and all of them together also provided the right amount of comedy that broke up the dramatic nature of the story so nicely, especially in their crowd-pleasing, “Gee, Officer Krupke.” The audience nearly came to their feet after that song. It was so much fun!

Review: WEST SIDE STORY at San Pedro Playhouse Overall, this show was wildly enjoyable and masterfully done! I especially appreciated that Rick Sanchez kept his vision to the classic style of the musical and gave the audience the beautiful production they expected to see. 



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