West Side Story
by Arts Off Broadway

Jerome Robbins re-imagined Romeo and Juliet taking place among rival New York gangs, and a new classic was born out of the old one with West Side Story. It swept the Tony Awards with its powerful story, innovative choreography, and unforgettable musical score including Maria, America, Tonight, I Feel Pretty, and Somewhere. It is also the last production of Arts Off Broadway, which will now merge with Broadway Bound Youth Theatre to become Broadway Theatre Arts Academy.

Arts Off Broadway goes off on a good note with a moving and well-sung production directed by Siobhan Sullivan. On Saturday night, smooth-singing Jacob Caltrider played Tony, former member of a gang called The Jets that he started with his best friend Riff. Shaun McGraw does a nice job as the cool-headed Riff trying to lead his sometimes hot-headed, sometimes frightened gang members as they try to hold onto “their territory” in the face of the rival Puerto Rican gang, The Sharks, led by Bernardo, with Gibran Lozano as their confident and fiery leader. Already headed on a collision course, the tensions rise dangerously when Bernardo’s younger sister arrives from Puerto Rico, and Tony falls in love with the girl named Maria.

Jeana Boulos was Maria on Saturday night, lending her lovely voice to the duets with Tony. The two had especially good chemistry as they amusingly introduced manikins of their parents. And she shares a riveting scene in A Boy Like That with Anita (Veronica Schneider), Bernardo’s girlfriend.

Other highlights include a terrific performance by Trevor Sanderson as Action, second in command behind Riff, who overcomes his angry nature when his friends need him the most, leading them in the hilarious spoof of Officer Krupke and the know-it-all professionals who like to typecast “hoodlums.” The Shark Girls light it up with America. Scott Heidemann came on at the last moment to perform a memorable Glad Hand who awkwardly tries to get the two gangs to dance together at the high school gym. That gym scene and a ballet to the ballad There’s a Place for Us are led by dynamic dancers Shaun McGraw and Janessa Gillette, the latter also assisting in the choreography by Dawn Gutierrez and Siobhan Sullivan. The cast and direction make for a most powerful closing scene as the battle between hate and love takes its victims.

Performed July 14-16, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Tony: Jacob Caltrider
Maria: Jeana Boulos
Anita: Veronica Schneider
Anybodys: Laura Giordino
Somewhere Soloist: Sadie Verger

~ The Jets ~
Riff: Shaun McGraw
Action: Trevor Sanderson
A-rab: Tommy Blanton
Diesel: Bryce Talbot
Big Deal: Trevor Roglestad
Snowboy: Ian McGraw
Baby John: Matt de la Cruz

~ The Sharks ~
Bernardo: Gibran Lozano
Chino: Marco Chavez
Pepe: Raul Kohl
Indio: Alejandro Otero
Luis: Ryan McClure
Toro: Philip Holden
Maurice: Maurice Pile
Moose: Sanford Jackson

~ The Jet Girls ~
Velma: Amber Steinbeck
Graziella: Deanna Shattuck
Minnie: Ellyse Hampshire
Clarice: Sara Waldorf
Pauline: Sally Blanton
Catherine: Ashley Rasmussen
Adeline: Hilary Ermolovich
Francie: Elizabeth Steinbeck
Patsy: Carly Cosler
JoAnn: Sara Grossman

~ The Shark Girls ~
Dancer: Janessa Gillette
Estella: Katie Lynn Mapel
Rosalia: Julia Boulos
Consuela: Lauren Browning
Teresita: Taylor Phillips
Francisca: Amanda Mune

Doc: Sanford Jackson
Shrank: Andrew Holden
Krupke: Scott Kolod
Glad Hand: Chris Andrews

Director: Siobhan Sullivan
Choreographers: Dawn Gutierrez and Siobhan Sullivan
Costume Designers: Carol Schiefer and Tamara Robinson
Set Design: Philip Holden and Marie Verger
Lightinig Designer: Marie Verger
Stage Manager: Sarah Tolwin


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