West Side Story is at the Lower Ossington Theatre this summer, and it’s a thoroughly entertaining event. Featuring a young and energetic cast, this beloved musical brings song, dance, and lots of excitement to the stage in the waning days of summer.
This musical often walks a fine line between parody and tragedy. Its ties to William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, coupled with a seemingly endless stream of dance numbers and songs, make it a tricky show to navigate. LOT’s production is stellar at walking this tightrope. Kiri-Lyn Muir’s choreography of the many dance scenes is superb, and these scenes serve as dazzling spectacles that land between some of the story’s more poignant moments.
Leading the cast is Meher Pavri as Maria and Hugh Ritchie as Tony. Both are great, although Pavri’s vocals are even more astounding than the rest of the already stellar cast. Her delivery in the balcony scene of the first act, where Tony and Maria share their first moments together, is jaw dropping. The rest of the cast is filled with solid dancers and singers; in particular, the Sharks gang, consisting of Chino (Andrew Perry), Juano (Gregory Eadie), and Pepe (Chiano Panth), are all a blast to watch during the dance numbers.
The superb cast makes it somewhat disappointing that there is no live orchestra. There is precious little room for one, but this is the type of show that would really benefit from having one to help drive the energy in each song and scene. Regardless, it’s not a glaring flaw, and the cast more than makes up for the lack of live music. In the dog days of the hottest summer in history, LOT’s West Side Story certainly brings the heat.
Directed by Lillian King, West Side Story runs at Lower Ossington Theatre until Sept. 18. For more information, visit www.lowerossingtontheatre.com.