“WEST SIDE STORY” Awesome in New Canaan


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Rocky road is the name of a great ice cream flavor but it is also a term that can be fixed on a love relationship that fails to run smoothly. Such is the fate of the original star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare lore, Juliet and her Romeo, who have been reborn on the streets of New York in “West Side Story,” the revolutionary musical created by Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and story by Arthur Laurents, based on a conception by Jerome Robbins.

Summer Theatre of New Canaan is pitting the rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, against the fragile young love of Tony and Maria, under their giant tent in Waveny Park in New Canaan until Sunday, July 31.  Become engrossed in the rumble as the “native” Jets take on the Puerto Rican Sharks, for a piece of the streets, the territory they both seek to own. Caught in the fisticuffs that soon escalate to switch blades are the innocents, Zach Schanne’s powerful Tony and Julia Paladino’s sensitive Maria, who only want to be free to share their affection openly “Somewhere.”

Tragically the world has conspired against them. Maria’s brother, Bernardo, an angry Hector Flores, Jr., has planned she marry "one of her own kind,” which Tony certainly isn’t. Bernardo’s girlfriend, the fiery Anita, well developed by Katie Stewart, tries to help the young lovers but is thwarted in her task. Doug Shankman’s glorious choreography carries the action, propelling it forward in electrifying waves. Memorable songs like “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,” “America,” “Cool,” “Tonight,” I Feel Pretty” and “The Ballet Sequence” shine. The humor of “Gee, Officer Krupke” by a quartet of talent-laden Jets relieves the intense drama of the tale. Artistic director Melody Libonati has crafted an awesome version of this classic story, with the help of music director David Turner, set designer Charles Pavarini III, costume creator Lauren Gaston and lighting specialist Dan Chapman.

For tickets ($45,and up to tables of 6 ), call STONC at 203-966-4634 or go online to boxoffice@stonc.org. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. The theatre is located at 11 Farm Road, at the New Canaan High School entrance.

Can love be powerful enough to heal racism and put an end to gun violence?  Come discover for yourself under the big white tent in Waveny Park with Summer Theatre of New Canaan. Don’t forget to bring the kiddies to see “James and the Giant Peach” and “Cinderella” playing weekends ($22).

Past and current stars of the STONC family and of Broadway will sparkle at “A Night of Stars in Concert,” in support of education for the performing arts, on Tuesday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. For info/tickets,go to www.stonc.org.

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CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE