"Someday, somewhere, we'll find a new way of living, we'll find a way of forgiving, somewhere." This line, from a song in "West Side Story," was inspiring even after the curtain closed on Madison High School's recent production of the Broadway classic.
The cast at the Vienna school performed a heart-wrenching interpretation of the bittersweet story, delivered with grace, energy and a lot of great dancing.
The 1957 musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim centered on two young lovers separated forever by the racism and gang violence of 1950s New York City. Maria and Tony meet at a dance, and it's love at first sight. They toss differences and obstacles aside as they aspire to triumph with true love and end up showing two rival gangs that love knows no racial boundaries.
Rob Ross's eye-catching set depicted a New York street, complete with a clothesline and a gorgeously lit skyline, a perfect background for the Jets' and Sharks' dueling dance at the opening. The highly energetic choreography added to the flavor, whether in the spicy number "America" or the rollicking "Gee, Officer Krupke." The chorus kept up nicely with the difficult moves.
The gangs, the play's driving force, were full of entertaining characters such as Action (played by Kyle Street), who was a funny, fuming and rebellious hoodlum. Montana Brown, as Maria, had a beautiful voice with a flexible range and hit many high notes in challenging songs. In the last scene, she effectively evoked the heartbreak of watching her lover die as the consequence of a hate-filled gang clash.
As Riff, Will Cromartie wowed the audience with his gymnastic flips and fluid movements, and Jessica Snow portrayed a riveting Anita.
Although some actors had pitch and control problems during a few songs, they compensated for it nicely with the energy of their dancing.
"West Side Story" was full of complicated songs and strong emotions. The energy and enthusiasm of Madison's cast, and the creativity and hard work of the crew, made for a production that was "cool" in every way.
Seton School, Manassas
"When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong, your love is your life." So sang Maria and Anita in the second act of "West Side Story," a play about the power of love and its ability to triumph over racism and hate that was performed recently by students at Madison High School.
The story was a modern-day adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet." Ex-Jet Tony fell in love with Maria, sister of the leader of rival gang the Sharks. After a rumble that left both gang leaders, Riff and Bernardo, dead, Maria and Tony planned to escape the West Side -- a plan that never materialized because Tony was shot and killed by Chino, the man Maria was supposed to marry.
Montana Brown was enthralling as the musical's heroine, Maria, her sensitive soprano well suited to the difficult Leonard Bernstein music, especially in the solo section of "I Have a Love." During the final scene, her powerful, understated grief stilled the audience. Opposite her, Byron Wiedeman played Tony with earnestness and honesty.
Kyle Street, in the role of Jet member Action, was a magnetic presence onstage, unwaveringly focused, giving extreme intensity to his character's barely contained rage. Backed by the energetic Jets in the ensemble song "Gee, Officer Krupke," he also provided comic relief with flair and enthusiasm.
Although the microphones were often a problem -- in part because of sound board trouble -- the cast handled the difficulties with poise and consciously tried to compensate in volume. The stage crew was in solid control of the beautiful set's many pieces, manipulating the units masterfully and quickly. The fight choreography was realistic, and the dance-like stage combat was in true "West Side Story" spirit.
Before meeting Maria, Tony sang, "Something's coming, something good." Madison High School's "West Side Story" was certainly "something good."
The Madeira School