Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Sunday, March 09, 2014

West Side Story March 8, 2014

    West Side Story Dances at Cerritos
                                     By Glen Creason

     It was eye-opening to see the fresh and energetic “West Side Story” that hit the stage at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend. Especially for those of us who learned and listened to the big-budget film made of the musical and the songs we have sung ever since. You would be hard-pressed to find a more powerhouse trinity than Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins who wrote the music, lyrics and choreographed in that order. There is great genius at work here and the young cast at Cerritos did not squander the chance to prove the shows exalted pedigree.  Still, as played in the here and now the show does naturally bend more toward the women and is less a tragedy and more of a musical. Luckily, the women in this cast were extraordinarily good both singing and dancing. MaryJoanna Grisso was absolutely sensational with a powerful yet sweet soprano that made even familiar tunes like “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere” celebrations of the songwriter’s art. Michelle Alves was terrific, lighting up the stage in every minute she held court and youthful Jarrod Biron Green was convincing and very sympathetic as the star-crossed Tony whose love for Maria transcends even his terrible mistake made in a moment of passion.  Alexander Cruz as Bolo was both stylish and strong in the demanding role of the Puerto Rican gang-leader who must stand up to the racism thrust at him and his immigrant community.

     Still, the real stars of this show were the entire cast since the dancing is at the heart of telling this modern day rendering of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Choreographer Joey McNeeley was masterful in recreating Jerome Robbins masterpiece of dance without once showing a molecule of age on the extremely fine ensemble numbers. Director David Saint kept the show very true to the classic original but left room for the exuberant young cast to express their take on the telling of this age old tale. With a live orchestra, interesting sets and costumes the production really left very little to be desired. 


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