West Side Story Review

Caitlin B., Staff Reporter

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Whenever someone hears the phrase “high school musical” they can only assume that it will be cheesy, offkey and just plain annoying. For those who don’t even like musicals, a much greater pile of agony can be thrown on top. Thankfully, that was not the case for Ashland High School’s production of West Side Story.

For many underclassman cast members such as sophomore Leona B. and freshman Carson L., West Side Story has been just the beginning of their high school musical career and most certainly not the ending. The portrayal of Action by Carson was delightful and seemingly fitting. I can almost imagine that–had this been the late 1950s–he would’ve been just like Action.

In the same respect, Leona fits the role of  Anybodys incredibly well. With her naturally spunky personality shining through, she can clearly be seen as this character. It is clear, from the very back of Archer Auditorium to the front row, that Leona is enjoying what she’s doing.

Another enjoyable aspect of the show would be the singing done by all of the cast, and particularly by leads freshman Aidan C. portraying Tony and senior Leah D. portraying Maria.  Though Leah has already been known to have incredible musical talent, it is amazing to hear her sing–especially with her Puerto Rican accent! Aidan’s debut into high school musicals has also proven him to be a great talent and a great match to Leah in performing. Hearing their two voices blend together in harmony makes heads turn and tears roll.

“America” performed by senior Genevieve W., junior Grace B. and junior Clara K. was one of the best songs throughout the entirety of Act I. Genevieve’s sassy character of Anita is the central focus of this song and she handles it extremely well. Her accent, dancing and singing were all vibrant and colorful. In this performance of “America,” Anita is the real star. Genevieve’s powerful singing proves this to be true.

In spite of all of the amazing parts of this production, something that seemed to slightly hinder it was the accents of many characters. Though it can only be expected that (mostly) suburban white kids would have trouble portraying Puerto Ricans and kids from the Bronx, it still felt extremely distracting and seemed to detract from the plot a bit. Though Bernardo, portrayed by junior Luke B., was supposed to sound Puerto Rican he sounded blatantly Russian. It was extremely confusing at first, as it didn’t make much sense to have a Russian man surrounded by the Sharks.

Overlooking the shaky accents by many, West Side Story was a fantastic production. With great singing, dancing and music, one can feel the heavy emotion that was put into the production. From the crew’s scene changes to the moment that Tony meets Maria, the intensity of work put in and joy reaped from it. For the cast and the audience, West Side Story will be remembered for a long while.