Wakefield High School West Side StoryBy Cappies • Apr 12th, 2013 • Category: Cappies
Bam! Pow! Stay cool, boys, because something’s coming tonight at Wakefield High School’s production of West Side Story.
In 1955, Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins took William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set it in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood in the 1950s, and turned the Montagues into the Jets and the Capulets into the Sharks. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim added music and lyrics, and in 1957 West Side Story debuted at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, charming and provoking audiences ever since. The musical addresses issues such as racism, juvenile delinquency, and stereotypes, which were brought to life by Wakefield’s talented cast and crew.
Sam Nelson starred as Tony, a member of the Jets, the white gang of teenagers fighting for turf with the Puerto Rican Sharks. Nelson played the role with gusto, navigating complex songs and dances with ease and bringing energy to the stage. His chemistry with Maria (played by Dominique Lopez Piper) was evident in such songs as “Tonight” and “One Hand, One Heart.” Lopez Piper’s operatic soprano voice shimmered in the air, and her passion and energy in the role of Maria made its way into every song and dance. Carla Astudillo drew roars from the audience as Anita, with spot-on acting, singing, and dancing. Astudillo showed true dimension and dedication to her role, displaying not only Anita’s sassy side but her deep care and concern for those she loves. Among those she loves is Anita’s boyfriend Bernardo, played by Jhonny Maldonado. Maldonaldo was dedicated and solid all aspects of his acting, singing, and dancing, commanding the stage with a sense of purpose.
A standout in the Jets gang was Karl Green as Action, particularly in the tongue-in-cheek “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Green was purposeful and committed from the moment he walked onstage to the moment he left, and provoked gales of laughter from the audience. Ensemble groups such as the Shark Girls, Shark Boys, Jet Girls, and Jet Guys worked well both in terms of choreography and vocal blending during numbers like “America” and “Dance at the Gym.” The cast as a whole maintained New York and Puerto Rican accents throughout the show, and generally remained focused and committed to their characters.
Carla Astudillo not only played Anita but designed an impressive array of costumes for the show as well. Astudillo used color schemes and dress styles to differentiate the Jets from the Sharks and handmade many of the dresses. The set, designed by Clara Doin and Emily Hambridge, featured a balcony, a bridal shop, and a drugstore. Choreography by student Alexa Moore was well-executed and well-planned. Scene changes were executed by a run crew in costume and generally flowed with the pace of the show.
West Side Story is a haunting tale of love in the midst of societal oppression and misconception, a story brought to the stage by Wakefield High School’s successful theater department. The themes depicted in the musical are truly timeless, and I left the theater with my eyes opened a little wider to the ones that have persisted from Verona, Italy to 1950s New York and the world in which we live today.
by Claire Seaton of Washington Lee High School
Photos by Jorge Acevedo
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