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Heritage High School West Side Story

By • May 2nd, 2013 • Category: Cappies

“Hold my hand and we’re halfway there. Wait for us — somewhere.” This weekend, Heritage High School presented a thought-provoking rendition of the classic tale, West Side Story.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Jerome Robbins created West Side Story in 1957. As lyricist, Stephen Sondheim made his Broadway début in the production in the Tony-award nominated, Best Musical. Years after in 1961, the musical was adapted for film and won ten Academy Awards, including Best Film.

Set in 1960s New York City, West Side Story features two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, set against each other by their opposing ethnicities. Despite their different backgrounds, star-crossed lovers, Tony (Devin Clawson) and Maria (Maria Regina), fall quickly in love, creating even greater tensions between the two gangs.

Devin Clawson and Maria Regina’s great chemistry displayed the head-over-heels love Tony and Maria fall into. Regina demonstrated her smooth, sweet voice in duets “Tonight” and “One Hand, One Heart.” In addition, Becky Schneider stole the show with her portrayal of Maria’s sister-in-law and close friend, Anita. Schneider had exquisite comedic timing throughout, brought out her sass in “America,” and sang a heart-wrenching duet with Regina. Also notable was Jet member Action, played by Liam Kittson. Kittson’s performance was energetic, eye-catching, and hilarious in the show-stopping number, “Officer Krupke.” A noteworthy cameo performance came from Sophy Meudt, who portrayed Glad Hand. Meudt provided extreme comic relief with her portrayal of the frazzled gym dance chaperone.

Choreographed by Giselle Tirado and Bella Tenaglia, the dances featured some of Jerome Robbins’ classic, original choreography, with a new, more technical twist. Dancing was especially strong in company numbers, “Dance at the Gym” and “America.” Tirado and Tenaglia themselves showed impressive skill when featured in all numbers.

The set (Matt Perkins, Audrey Villanueva, Devin Clawson, and Jake Rodriguez) included rolling wagons to create scenes in Doc’s, the Bridal Shop, and Maria’s Room, as well as, a functioning balcony, and a graffiti-covered backdrop. While simple, the set worked perfectly around the movement of the actors during the opening fight and the Rumble. Not only did the sets look appropriate but the stage crew moved all pieces on and off in a split second, keeping the action of the production constantly moving.

With striking choreography, high energy, and minimalist technical elements, Heritage High School reminded us that somewhere, there is a place for all of us.

by Madeleine Bloxam of Westfield High School

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