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Theatre Information

Woodrow Wilson High School West Side Story

By • Nov 21st, 2013 • Category: Cappies, Virginia, Washington DC

The Atomic Age, The Nifty Fifties, whatever you call it, the 1950s were a source of innovation. However, not everything during this era was “nifty” which Woodrow Wilson High School’s remarkable production of West Side Story proved superbly.

West Side Story originally opened on Broadway in 1957 with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The first run received the Tonys for choreography and scenic design. The show has since been a heavy source of revivals in regional, national, and international tours. The story follows that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, placed in the Upper West Side of New York City during the 1950s. The musical replaces the family feud with that of racial struggles dominant in the 50s: the Montagues and Romeo with the Polish-American Jets and Tony and the Capulets and Juliet with the Puerto Rican Sharks and Maria. Complexities and depth are added by a Bernstein score as the tale of young love was explored impressively by Wilson’s cast and crew.

Yana Madrid’s approach to Maria’s songs were incredible as she switched between two vocal registers flawlessly. Her renditions of “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty” were especially impressive. Madrid’s chemistry with Tony (Ben Topa) truly expressed the youthful love they had for one another. While Topa had troubles hitting the higher notes in Bernstein’s score due to a cold, he fully committed to his role and established clear relationships with every character he encountered. Other standout performances include Riff (Jonah Gigli) and Anita (Nakfana Gidey) who both consistently sustained character and carried a great presence on stage. Both displayed a wide range of emotions from anger to despair to optimistic happiness.

Overall, the ensembles kept up energy. “America” was packed with power, while the comedic “Gee, Officer Krupke” received a boisterous laugh from the audience. The Jets’ outstanding chemistry shined as each member portrayed realistic characters who were both part of the ensemble itself and also their own person.

While the cast performed fantastically, the crew working behind the scenes executed their jobs with precision. The set changes between scenes were quickly executed while the pit orchestra played diligently to keep up with the fast paced and demanding score. The costumes reflected the time period accurately. Some light and sound troubles occurred yet the actors’ devotion to their roles allowed their mannerisms and actions to forward the story. The choreography became progressively complex yet the actors again undertook their hardships with the dances and fights outstandingly. Twirling dresses and realistic stage combat overtook the stage in a frenzy of excitement and shock.

Woodrow Wilson High School’s production of West Side Story tackled this challenge head on creating an evening full of love, hope, and tragedy that ultimately conjured many tears from the audience.

by Stuart Pratuch of West Springfield HS

Photo Gallery

Nakfana Gidey as Anita. Background: Anita Montero (Francisca), Janea Johnson (Teresita) and Lena Jones (Margarita) Lena Jones as Margarita, Gena Basha as Estella,  Fenice Thompson as Rosalia and Nakfana Gidey as Anita
Nakfana Gidey as Anita. Background: Anita Montero (Francisca), Janea Johnson (Teresita) and Lena Jones (Margarita)
Lena Jones as Margarita, Gena Basha as Estella, Fenice Thompson as Rosalia and Nakfana Gidey as Anita
Yana Madrid as Maria and Ben Topa as Tony Ramiro C Forty as Bernardo, Michael Bayliss as Diesel, Jonah Gigli as Riff, in background Zachary Nachbar-Seckel as Action
Yana Madrid as Maria and Ben Topa as Tony
Ramiro C Forty as Bernardo, Michael Bayliss as Diesel, Jonah Gigli as Riff, in background Zachary Nachbar-Seckel as Action
Ramiro C. Forty as Bernardo, Jonah Gigli as Riff. Background: Peter Maeder (Gee-tar) Michael Bayliss (Deisel) and Tristan Huber (Big Deal)
Ramiro C. Forty as Bernardo, Jonah Gigli as Riff. Background: Peter Maeder (Gee-tar) Michael Bayliss (Deisel) and Tristan Huber (Big Deal)

Photos by Judy Licht

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