Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Port Tobacco Players West Side Story

By • Feb 15th, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Port Tobacco Players’ production of West Side Story [MP3 6:22 2.9MB].

West Side Story
Port Tobacco Players
Port Tobacco Players Theater, La Plata, MD
Through Mar. 2nd

Laura: This is the review of West Side Story, performed by the Port Tobacco Players, in La Plata, Maryland. Mike and I saw a preview performance, Wednesday, February 13, 2008.

Mike: This was a fairly solid production of West Side Story, there were a few minor problems in the show that will be ironed out before they open,but I think all in all, this was a pretty good show.

Laura: Yes, this was a solid performance. Having a real audience gave the actors energy, and really helped them with their performance. There were a few things that need to be worked out, some lighting and choreography, but overall it was good.

Mike: West Side Story is a musical, with book by Arthur Lawrence, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The story is based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Set on Manhattan’s upper west side, the musical explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Tony belongs to the white gang, and he falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang. But no one wants this relationship to work because the two sides will always be at war.

Laura: Tony, one of the members of the Jets, was played by Christopher Libelo. He did a great job. This was his first show ever, and he really pulled out all the stops. He had a little bit of a problem with the range, his voice gave out on some of the high notes. Some of that might have been nervousness, but as time goes on he will get over that. I really liked his performance on stage.

Mike: Tony feel in love with Maria, played by Alayna Morton. She did a very good job. I liked her voice, and I liked how she made the part very human. She was very innocent, but she thought she wanted to be grown up, so she was playing at that a little bit. Her interactions with her family and friends was very strong.

Laura: Maria’s friend Anita was played by Pamela Morris. She had a really nice range, and was feisty. She had a good scene at the end when she was delivering a message to Tony that Maria was going to come down, and the Jets gave her a hard time. One of the “oopses” was her wig came off during the scene. It was funny, but she didn’t let it distract her. I liked her voice.

Mike: This was an enormous cast. The Jets and the Sharks each had eight members, and then their girls, and there were a few adults scattered throughout. But the show is about kids, (kids – I feel so old! – Ah! Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!) and the kids as they are growing into adulthood, and defining what is theirs, because they don’t have anything. I think they did a great job everybody together. Some of the scenes were a little crowded, notably the dance at the gym where a scrim came down splitting the stage in half. But like we said when chatting with the show’s choreographer, Randy Tusing, the dance scene at the gym worked really well, because that’s what I remember when I went to dances at high school, it was everybody all crammed together, and there really wasn’t a lot of room. It worked really well.

Laura: I thought the choreography was great. It was well done, timed perfectly, went well with the music.

Mike: There were also several fights throughout the show. The combat choreographers were Randy Tusing, Kyle Tusing, and David Timmermann. Although there was one point where a stage knife was accidentally thrown out into the audience, the fight scenes were very well done. There was a scene near the end of the show, that was a surprise, and didn’t quite get the right reaction from the audience, it got some laughter, because it scared everybody. I don’t know how you get around that. During the actual one on one combat in the different fight scenes, a few of the characters, when they were waiting for their sparring partner to attack them, looked like they were waiting. They need to work a little bit on looking like they are active, or are looking for a fight.

Laura: Because we saw the family and friends performance, there were still a few lighting cues that need to be worked out. There was one scene with Anita up on a balcony and the lights were on and off her, and that’s something that I know will be worked out by opening.

Mike: The light effects were pretty good, especially on the scenes running through the city while fighting. The lighting was designed by Leslie Wanko. There were some sound problems as well, with either microphones being hooked to the wrong part of the costumes, so when characters moved, or were hit or punched, you would hear the rustling of the fabric against the microphone. There were a few times where it seemed that the microphones weren’t turned on at the right time. There were also several times when people were hugging or kissing, and then they’d say a line, there were talking directly into the other person’s microphone, which resulted in garbled or very loud speech. That is something else that will work out. I think all the different parts are there for this to be a really good show.

Laura: West Side Story plays through March 2nd, Fridays and Saturday at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm, at the Port Tobacco Playhouse in La Plata, Maryland.

Mike: This show runs two and a half hours with one intermission.

Laura: We’d like to invite you to join our free mailing list so that you can stay informed on community theater happenings in the DC region.

Mike: And now, on with the show.


  • The Jets
    • Riff (leader): Pat Pruitt
    • Tony: Christopher Libelo
    • Action: Najee Clancy
    • A-Rab: Karlos Ramon DeCosta
    • Baby John: Khari Malik Whitmyer
    • Snowboy: Bobby Balint
    • Big Deal: Michael Rairigh
    • Diesel “Ice”: Sylvern JD Groomes Jr.
    • Gee-Tar: Joey A. Frenette
  • Jet Girls
    • Graziella: Becky King
    • Velma: Abby Barber
    • Anybodys: Paige Hopkins
    • Minnie: Paige Steffens
    • Pauline: Angelina O’Leary
    • LaVerne: Katie Sheldon
    • Irma: Rebacca Howard
    • Dorothy: Paige Cephas
  • The Sharks
    • Bernardo (leader): Gary Richardson
    • Chino: Scott Eric Beland
    • Toro: Rusty Hrabe
    • Pepe: Cody Konschak
    • Indio: Aaron Lawson
    • Luis: Stephen Hilson
    • Anxious: Austin Gore
    • Juano: Matt Klein
  • Shark Girls
    • Maria: Alayna Morton
    • Anita: Pamela Morris
    • Rosalia: Eunique Young
    • Consuelo: Gina D’Alessandro
    • Carmen: Javvieaus Stewart
    • Teresita: Amanda Wegand
    • Estella: Britney Gregory
    • Margarita: Hannah Hunt
    • Delores: Rachael Bias
  • Lt. Shrank: David Bayles
  • Officer Krupke: John D’Alessandro
  • Doc: Keith Linville
  • Gladhand: Billy Klein


  • Conductor: David C. Monk
  • Keyboard: Mitch Morton, Cheryl M. Reckeweg
  • Clarinet/Bass Clarinet: Tara Derr
  • Oboe/English Horn/Clarinet/Tenor Sax: William V. Derr
  • Wind Controller: William V. Derr
  • Flute/Piccolo/Clarinet/Alto Sax: Cheri Monk
  • Flute/Clarinet/Bass Clarinet: Susan Sweeney
  • Bassoon: Joe Tersero
  • Trumpet: Jimmy Dodohara, Doug Fraley
  • Trombone: Roy Jenkins, Cliff Whitford
  • Percussion: Tim DeLoache
  • Violin: Susan Koon, Heidi Mickey, Denise Murphy


  • Producer: Keith Linville
  • Assistant Producer: Susan Campbell
  • Director: Lisa Kay Morton
  • Music Director: Mitchell Morton
  • Choreographer: Randy Tusing
  • Combat Choreography: Randy Tusing, Kyle Tusing, David Timmermann
  • Stage Manger: Steve Claggett
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Joe Ramsey
  • Stage Crew: Mitch Claggett
  • Diction Coach: Marie Vazquez
  • Set Design: Lisa Kay Morton, John Merritt
  • Set Construction Lead: Ron Locke
  • Set Construction Crew: Jeff Merritt, John Merritt, John Simons
  • Set Painting Lead: John Merritt
  • Set Painting Crew: Christine & Keturah Hansen, Debbie, Dave, and Paige Hopkins, Cast and Crew
  • Set Decoration: Keith Linville, John Merritt, Karen Turner
  • Properties: Karen Turner
  • Light Design: Leslie Wanko
  • Light Operator: Mark Fischer
  • Spotlights: Maggie Campbell, Alison Claggett
  • Sound Design: Joe Stein
  • Sound Operator: David Timmermann
  • Special Effects/Armor: Steve Claggett
  • Costume Design: Mary Ellen Howard, Carlene Bias
  • Costume Crew: Susan Campbell, Amy DiMisa, Joe Frenette, Barbara Weiss, Denise Wells
  • Makeup and Hair Design: Lisa Kay Morton
  • Make and Hair Crew: Brittany Wilson, Danielle LeDoux
  • House Manager: Karen Turner
  • Reservations: Laura Lane, Theresa Pickeral, Richard Reckeweg
  • Program: Cherlyl M. Reckeweg
  • Program Printing: Quality Printing, Waldorf
  • T-Shirts: Positive Graphics, White Plains
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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