Wow! I was speechless. Just saw one of my all-time favorite musicals, West Side Story at The Gem Theatre.
The musical was just so powerful. I was left in awe.
Tony, played by Brandon Taylor Jones, was portrayed beautifully as a caring, peaceful teen who falls in love with his former gang's rival, The Sharks’ gang leader.'s sister. Even though he was no longer part of The Jets, (his former gang), this rivalry of the two gangs makes the relationship between Maria and himself difficult. Brandon was impressive in his performance and especially wowed me with his ability to hold his notes on his musical numbers.
Erika Baldwin who played Maria has an angelic soprano voice and her acting had me in tears. Riff (Race Chambers) is a very athletic dancer and amazed me with the jump from the balcony to the stage in a scene in Act One. He also wowed me with how high he can leap up and his dancing ability. Nicole Cassesso couldn’t have been better casted as the feisty Anita, her dancing and singing just thrilling to experience.
Danny Diaz as Bernardo, the Sharks’ leader gave an amazing performance. The entire cast was excellent in their acting, dancing and singing. I especially liked the lighting and the set design, cleverly designed and constructed. The Gem Theatre is quaint and Director Damien Lorton’s amazing use of the aisles and including the audience as part of the show (Maria pointing the gun around the gangs and the audience), is simply brilliant.
I also love how this theater uses live bands in all of their productions. I know the cast recognizes the band but when they turn to the back of the stage and recognizes the band who performs offstage with impeccable timing (even though they do not see the action), I wonder if the audience knows what they are clapping their hands for.
The choreography was amazing because without the choreography West Side Story was just be a play, not the superb musical One More Productions has presented here. The costumes and wigs matches the show perfectly Love, love, love it. And to all of the production staff and volunteers, I say thank you for your part in this amazing show.
Instead of the usual individual bows, it ended with the entire cast bowing and only Brandon Taylor Jones (as Tony) and Erika Baldwin (as Maria) taking individual bows together. The audience, obviously moved by the performance they just witnessed, gave a standing ovation that lasted a very long time.
They played to a sold out opening weekend. So far, all of the shows as of 7/21/2019 have been sold out. I heard guests were turned away the first weekend because the shows were sold out.
Tell your friends about this show. It will be running until August 11th.
A must-see musical. Really.