West Side Story | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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West Side Story



WEST SIDE STORY, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Though this Bernstein/Laurents/Sondheim/Robbins dynamo is almost 50 years old, like its Shakespearean source it remains forever young. There's a coiled power in every number, from the fearsome territoriality of "Jet Song" to the otherworldly beauty of "Tonight" and "Somewhere." Balanced against the streets that threaten instant death is the unearthly idealism of Tony and Maria, who enjoy two days of bliss before hate triumphs over love.

Marc Robin's revival is a generous showcase for two dozen exciting young singer-dancers. Never stagy or obvious, his choreography ranges easily from the kick-ass gangbanging of the Jets anthem to the dream ballets at the gym to the lovers' heartbreaking fantasy of a loving world. Though the storytelling is surefire in "Cool," "America," and especially "Gee, Officer Krupke!," it's countered by an almost scary youthful energy.

Michael Gillis and Deborah Lew redefine infatuation: Gillis brings an ardent tenor (though it's a bit thin in the upper register) to his boy-next-door Tony, and Lew is powerful as Maria when she pleads the case for love to Natalie Hill's unforgettable Anita. As Riff and Bernardo, Derek Isetti and David Villella exemplify the fear and hatred that feed on themselves.

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