West Side Story – Review by Bonnie Goldberg


William Shakespeare wrote the original tale of star-crossed lovers centuries ago when he penned the tragic story of Juliet and her Romeo. Years later, the tragedy was retold by shifting it to the streets of New York where the original feuding families, the Capulets and the Montaques, were replaced by two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. The avid animosity and anger were still there and the sweet, innocent and instantaneous love sparked between Maria and Tony was just as poisonous and impossible to sustain.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is offering up a moving and emotionally vivid “West Side Story” until Sunday, July 30 and you will soon be caught up in the swirl of romance of Mia Pinero’s lovely and luminous Maria matched with ardor by Stephen Mir’s heroic and dedicated Tony. The stirring musical is based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Musical theater doesn’t get any better than this.

When the childhood games of hopscotch, jump rope, and leap frog are abandoned for hide and seek with real guns and turf wars over disputed territory, you know the cliques are now full-fledged gangs. Nowhere are the stakes more obviously at risk then here, pitting two rival gangs in a rumble where the blood runs warm and red. When the leader of the Puerto Rican pack Bernardo (Victor Borjas) finds his sister Maria has eyes only for Tony, a member of the rival group, the stage is set for tragedy. Just like the doomed lovers of old, Maria and Tony are trapped in conflicts not of their own making. The purity of their love is tarnished by the war that flares out of control. Natalie Madion is a fiery Anita who tries in vain to cool the conflagration and end their affection.

The music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sonheim are magic, enhanced by Todd L. Underwood’s energetic choreography and direction and Daniel Nischan’s versatile set.

For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22,children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 3 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Watch for the exciting cabaret theater evenings planned this summer with the Ivoryton Playhouse and the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, that combines a delicious dinner with sparkling live entertainment in a personal setting, for $69 a person. Call Water’s Edge at 860-399-5901 for reservations, or go online to www.watersedgeresortandspa.com. Make your summer musical and memorable.

Watch how the slash of a switchblade cuts out lives and hopes as it inflicts pain and poignancy to the modern day equivalent of Shakespeare’s favorite pair of lovers.