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South Lakes High School West Side Story

By • May 11th, 2012 • Category: Cappies

Can true love survive the conflict and hatred of two racially prejudice gangs on the streets of New York? South Lakes High School set out to discover this in their performance of West Side Story.

West Side Story is a classic American musical that was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with a book Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It was one of the first shows to incorporate darker themes, complex music, and social commentary into the story. The show opened on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 732 performances before going on tour. It ran in London, has had multiple revivals, and was made into a movie in 1961. The story is set in New York City’s Upper West Side in the mid-1950s. It revolves around the conflict of two local street gangs: the Jets, the cool kids on the block, and the Sharks, the Puerto Rican immigrants. The Jets’ leader Riff challenges Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, to a rumble to settle a territory dispute. Meanwhile, Riff’s best friend Tony falls in love with Bernardo’s sister Maria and they try to live their love despite the un-acceptance of others.

The show was grounded with a wonderful performance from Ariana Kruszewski as Maria. Kruszewski’s beautiful operatic soprano helped her to successfully conquer these very iconic songs. She sustained a very good Hispanic accent throughout the show, which continued from her lines into her singing. She captured the innocent, loving nature of Maria especially in songs such as “I Feel Pretty” and “I Have a Love”. Her relationship with Tony was well present throughout the show.

The leads were backed by strong supporting actors in both Riff (Sean McCoy) and Anita (Michelle Slivinski). McCoy embodied the character of Riff through his cocky attitude and smooth snapping. He did a good job of keeping the energy up in the Jets ensemble and led the Jets’ group numbers with charm and a very nice voice. Slivinski as Anita was a pleasure to watch especially in the number “America” in which she kept up the energy and humor. Her relationship with Maria was well developed and showed itself especially later in the show.

The Jets were a fun and energetic ensemble to watch. Each boy had a distinct character that made their scenes very amusing. Standouts such as Action (Carson Gillions) and Baby John (Stanley Payne) added nice comic and flavor. They worked well as a group, coming together to perform an excellent and entertaining “Gee, Officer Krupke”.

In the dream sequence seven large puppets were used to display how all races should come together in harmony. Led by a Statue of Liberty puppet, six others showing all the different races came together on stage. Aspects of the puppet’s race were tied into elements of New York City. For example, a Chinese headdress looked like the Chrysler building and Indian’s war paint looked like fire escapes.

Despite some microphone issues, the orchestra sometimes being too loud, and an awkwardly pantomimed door, the cast of South Lakes High School’s West Side Story brought plenty of energy and emotion to the stage in their rendition of this American classic.

by Madeleine Lucas of Oakcrest School

Photo Gallery

Carson Gillions, Brentan Walters, Sean McCoy, Stanley Payne, Michael Apsley, Austin Bur, Levi Prudhomme The Shark Ensemble 'Tonight'
Carson Gillions, Brentan Walters, Sean McCoy, Stanley Payne, Michael Apsley, Austin Bur, Levi Prudhomme
The Shark Ensemble ‘Tonight’
Ben Peter, Ariana Kruszewski
Ben Peter, Ariana Kruszewski

Photos by Michael Slivinski

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