A Routine West Side Story at Theatre by the Sea

 

Photo credit: Steven Richard Photography

Photo credit: Steve Richard Photography

The latest production of West Side Story at Theatre by the Sea features some terrific singing and dancing, as well as a wonderful score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

This is a good-looking show, featuring terrific costumes and sets. Unfortunately it feels too by the numbers, as if the creative team were merely paying homage instead of telling a story.

Bronson Norris Murphy and Evy Ortiz are fantastic as the star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, who find themselves caught in the middle of a war between rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks. Murphy and Ortiz are attractive performers with strong voices. Their performance of “Tonight” was utterly charming. Murphy also delivered a passionate vocal on “Maria.”

Some local favorites were in the cast, including the always reliable Tom Gleadow as Doc, who serves as an authority figure in the lives of the two gangs. Jean-Pierre Farragamo, most recently seen in The Buddy Holly Story, is amusing to watch as Sergeant Krupke.

Earlier this year I saw Miss Saigon, which also is about a doomed romance. The final moments of that show hit the audience like a sledgehammer. When one of the lovers meets a tragic end in West Side Story, the impact is muted because there is a lack of emotion in the entire story.

A lot of effort obviously went into this production, but the end result falls short of greatness.

West Side Story runs through July 16. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays; please check the website for exact dates and show times as they vary week to week. Tickets are available by phone 401-782-8587, online at theatrebythesea.com, or in person at 364 Cards Pond Rd, Wakefield.

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