The Fiddlehead Theatre Company kicks off what promises to be a strong 2015-2016 season with one of theater's most iconic musicals: "West Side Story." This modern take on the Romeo and Juliet story is as timeless as the Shakespeare play that inspired the book by Arthur Laurents. Leonard Bernstein set the story to music with lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins created choreography that remains one of the benchmarks of great dance.
The current production playing at the Strand Theater in Dorchester delivers all of the energy and punch that audiences have come to expect from this iconic work of art. There are several highlights that come to mind:
- Musical Director Charles Peltz has assembled a 22-piece orchestra that fills the performance space with the familiar Bernstein music.
- Choreographer Wendy Hall has taken the beloved Jerome Robbins dance numbers an invested them with energy and drive that keep them a living organism rather than a balletic museum piece.
- Kim Corbett is a luminous Maria. Her singing voice is worth the price of admission. There are some note that she launches towards the upper reaches of the Strand Theater that shimmer like crystal. The chemistry that she shares with Tony is believable and heart-breaking. Their duet "One Hand, One Heart" is a highlight.
- Jeffrey Zicker is a very convincing Tony. In the early numbers, he seemed to struggle a bit in his upper register, but as the performance progresses, he gained strength and confidence and matched Ms. Corbet's sound in their later duets.
- Pamela Turpen is strong as Anita. "A Boy Like That" is sung with thunder in her heart and voice. Scenic Designer Mac Young uses multiple levels of the Strand space to stage the action. Anita luxuriates in a bath that is set in a mezzanine box.
- Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva is a strutting and swarthy Bernado, oozes hatred for the Jets from his every pore. His chemistry with Anita is sultry and palpable.
- Theo Lencicki is an excellent Riff,leader of the Jets. "Jet Song" and "Cool" are great ensemble numbers led by him.
- Carl-Michael Ogle is a very sympathetic Chino, the Shark is in way over his head in trying to gain revenge for Bernado's death.
- The always reliable John Davin makes a great Doc and high school Principal.
- The dancing throughout this production is spectacularly good.
Fidlehead Theatre Company
Through October 25th
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