West Side Story
Much-loved American classic features interdisciplinary cast
Review by Josue Meneses
West Side Story, the groundbreaking musical that combines on stage performances, live music and drama was one of the best performances I ever seen, at least for the past decade at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. A great experience indeed, including lavishing production numbers, great portable sets, dazzling costumes, excellent choreographies and superb performances. A must see for the on-going theatre lover of just the occasional aficionado.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to witness the closing night of the Claire Trevor Show â€œWest Side Storyâ€ with an incredible production that included a live orchestra, which one could see through a translucent curtain dividing a three-dimensional set. Itâ€™s quite common to see this kind of shows at Las Vegas or even in New York. I was so pleased to see that this Broadway style musicals taking place right here in Southern California inundated with astonishing performances and the magnificent voices on a shared effort of The Claire Trevor Show and A Special collaboration of the UCI Dance, Drama, & Music Department’s.
Every little detail was carefully taken in consideration for the production. From the 50â€™s style signs to the wardrobe, props, excellent lighthing and the indoor-outdoor swap of sets was one of the greatest local productions I’ve seen in a long time. Not to mention the outstanding performances. Overall the West Side Story is one of the best East Side shows I came across until now.
More than 400 UC Irvine students showed up during the first week of classes to audition for Leonard Bernsteinâ€™s masterpiece. By opening night, cast members representing the best of dance, drama and music talent in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts will have put in at least 165 rehearsal hours. Costumes, scenery and lighting are being tackled by graduate design students as part of their theses, and the 45-member orchestra outnumbers the original 1957 Broadway production.
â€œThereâ€™s no show with a pedigree to match West Side Story,â€ says director Eli Simon, drama department chair. â€œIt has music by Leonard Bernstein, book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim in his Broadway debut, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and produced by Hal Prince and Robert E. Griffith.
â€œThe musical score is unlike any other ever written for the world of musical theatre. It presents incredible challenges for singers, dancers and actors,â€ Simon adds. â€œAnd the story soars. As I see it, the show is all about ownership, passion and turf. Who owns the streets? For young kids itâ€™s not just a matter of pride, itâ€™s a matter of insane passion. It has to lead to death. Where else could it go?â€
The UCI production features choreography by Tracy Bonner, who received a master of fine arts from UCI; and musical direction by Daniel Gary Busby, drama assistant professor. The orchestra is conducted by Stephen Tucker, music assistant professor.