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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

South County Secondary School West Side Story

By • May 11th, 2012 • Category: Cappies

West Side Story, the 1950’s remake of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, follows two rival gangs of inner city New York. Their rivalry stems primarily from racism; the Jets is a group of white kids, while the Sharks are all Puerto Rican. However, no gang story can be complete without star-crossed lovers, who come in the form of Tony, an ex-Jet, and Maria, the girlfriend of Chino and sister to Bernardo, both Sharks members. Would their love be doomed to fail? Should it follow Shakespeare’s tale closely, you could count on it.

The high-energy show was mastered beautifully by this talented group of performers. Nikko Custodio, who played Riff, dominated the first act of this show with his explosive dance moves and brilliant characterization. His counterpart and leader of the rival gang Sharks, Yusuf Alizo, fit Bernardo perfectly as his powerful presence commanded attention from the audience. This contrasted well with Custodio’s rather small frame and added to the heightened sense of partition among the teens. Custodio and his primary dance partner, Shannon Clark, lit up the stage with their electric mixture of ballet and jazz-style choreography. Maria, one of the star-crossed lovers played by Whitney Turner, delighted audience members with her operatic style of singing. Though some had trouble keeping their Puerto Rican (or other) accents, the majority of the cast spoke with the ease and clarity of a native speaker. And most importantly, all had wonderful energy that kept the show speeding along from start to finish.

The show featured many large sets, and though they were not designed by students, their construction and decoration was very well done. The stage crew that brought on these massive sets moved with fluidity and never let awkward pauses sink into their set changes. Also notable on the technical side were the costumes assembled and made by Mariah Kahn. The 1950’s style dress fit wonderfully into this story, especially with the differing color schemes that each of the gangs had. Though difficult tech-wise, the show was handled expertly in all aspects, and this really helped highlight the performers.

by Erik Rigaux of Winston Churchill

Photo Gallery

Dean Maldonato (Tony) and Whitney Turner (Maria) L to R back: Rachel Epstein, Rachel Snare, Kathryn Moore (Anita), Danica Abarquez, London Docherty, Cara Bachman; front: Kathy Oh
Dean Maldonato (Tony) and Whitney Turner (Maria)
L to R back: Rachel Epstein, Rachel Snare, Kathryn Moore (Anita), Danica Abarquez, London Docherty, Cara Bachman; front: Kathy Oh
Nikko Custodio (Riff) and Shannon Clark (Velma)
Nikko Custodio (Riff) and Shannon Clark (Velma)

Photos by Jennifer Sparks

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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