Theatre Review: Raleigh’s Production of West Side Story 

Theatrical release poster

by Joe Caroff  

Theatrical release poster

Michelle Porizkova , Staff Writer

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Imagine if Shakespeare was born in the 1950s and enjoyed watching a good tussle between New York gang rivals and had an impeccable ear for Latin American music. 

Well, luckily for those who have pondered the idea in their head before, there is a musical out there for YOU! 

Allow me to introduce you to West Side Story. A modern(ish) retelling of the cult classic Romeo and Juliet, this musical is set in Upper West Side of New York City during the 1950s, and explores the rivalry between two culturally diverse gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

The show explores the discord between the Puerto Rican and Caucasian gangs, and how their feud affects the blossoming love affair between Tony and Maria: two lovers caught between the bloodshed. 

Between Oct. 15-20 the NC theatre put on their season-opening production of West Side Story, featuring a plethora of incredible performers from all over the country.

The lead roles were played by Zach Adkins as Tony and Addie Morales as Maria, both of whom have had numerous experiences taking center stage with their impeccable voices. Zach is best known for his lead role in Anastasia on Broadway, and Morales herself is most recognizable for her secure grip on the role of Maria, which she has performed across numerous stages. 

My expectations for the show were quite high, honestly. I had not seen a show at the NC Theatre yet, and did not see any way in which it could disappoint; but my expectations were completely blown away the moment that Adkins and Morales began to sing. 

The first solo performance by Adkins is in his upbeat and hopeful “Something’s Coming”, in which he croons atop a ladder in the center of the stage. For the entirety of only two and a half minutes, Adkins had me hooked by both his vocal range and stage demeanor. I was honestly blown away by his bright voice and stage presence – it was captivating. 

The real kicker? A few numbers later, Morales and Adkins join arms in their rendition of “Tonight”, in which they solidify their love on her fire escape, singing of hope and happiness.

If I wasn’t so blown away by Adkins’ vocal chops, Morales would have surely saved the show for me. Her clear and sharp vocals took my breathe away, quite honestly; and when paired with Adkinz, the duo made an unforgettable pair. 

Michelle Alvez also made for a very memorable Anita, bringing a much desired intensity and humor to the show. Her dancing was highlighted in “America,” and had my eyes glued to the stage.

What was notable about the show was not only the incredible performance by the lead actors, but also the impressive expertise of the supporting cast as well. The entire production seemed to run like clock-work, and according to my eyes and ears, nobody seemed to miss a beat. 

Needless to say, this show was both riveting and entertaining. I laughed, I cried, and I immensely enjoyed this timeless tale of love, hate, and everything in between.

 

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