BWW Review: WEST SIDE STORY at Florida Repertory Theatre
WEST SIDE STORY at Florida Repertory Theatre, directed by Kody C Jones, tells the classic musical story of the Jets, Sharks, Tony, and Maria.
WEST SIDE STORY is a 1950s New York take on Romeo and Juliet, and it is an absolutely bittersweet show. There is joy, love, loss, grief, and so much more. This is a beautiful cast, and they did a wonderful job bringing this classic show to life.
The Jets include Zach Schanne as Tony, Skyler Shields as Riff, Joe Collins as Action, Brett Shields as A-Rab, Patrick Agonito as Baby John, Zeke Bocklage as Snowboy, Keehnon Jackson as Big Deal, Brice Kingsley as Diesel, Chase Clark as Panzer, Michael Shelley as Gee-Tar, Scotty Wells as Mouthpiece, and Matthew Eakins as Tiger. The Jet Girls include Alexis Yard as Graziella, Missy Tucker as Velma, Emma Badger as Minnie, Paige Lewandrowski as Clarice, Sommer Senne as Pauline, and Sarah Joyce as Anybodys. Rounding out the Jets in the ensemble are Maddie Barker, Sophia Gurule, and Chloe Lowman.
The Sharks include Rebbekah Vega-Romero as Maria, Diego Guevara as Bernardo, Maria Cristina Posada Slye as Anita, Ryan Reyes as Chino, Yul Carrion as Pepe, Sean Rodrigo Royal as Indio, Alex Leeds as Luis, Nicholas Salerno as Nibbles, and Heros Oliveira as Toro. Alongside them are the Shark Girls, including Nayda Marie Baez as Rosalia, Sophie Elizabeth as Consuela, Kayla Clements as Teresita, Laela Beatriz Rodriguez as Francisca, Lorelai Vega as Estella, and Emily Longoria as Margarita. Rounding out the Sharks in the ensemble are Athena Rose Belis and Naomi Medina.
As you can tell, this is a very large cast. It is by far the biggest cast in a professional show that I have seen on Florida Rep’s stage, and I have to give major kudos to everyone involved in the production for making it so wonderful. The acting was superb, the dancing was phenomenal, and the singing was so, so beautiful. From “Jet Song” to “America,” “Cool,” “Tonight,” and beyond, each performance was spectacular. Vega-Romero’s Maria and Schanne’s Tony had incredible chemistry on stage, and it was such a joy to watch them fall in love before our eyes. Vega-Romero’s “I Feel Pretty” was another stand-out moment for me, as was Schanne’s “Maria.” I also thoroughly enjoyed Slye’s Anita alongside Guevara’s Bernardo. Skyler Shields’s Riff did a great job leading the Jets through every song, dance, and fight. Really, this cast is so talented, it would be hard to not love this show.
This production was directed by Education Director Kody C Jones (who also did the fight choreography), alongside musical direction by Rosalind Metcalf, choreography by Curtis Holbrook, scenic design by David Arsenault, costume design by Kim Griffin, lighting design by Tyler M. Perry, and sound design by Adam Trummel. Every aspect of this show was brilliant, and this team did a spectacular job giving this show a fresh feeling. I was truly transported to the time and place of this story. The musical numbers were so much fun to watch, and I loved how the fight choreography really was choreography. Each fight was its own dance, and it kept the audience completely enthralled.
Something really unique about this production is that it was a Co-Production between Florida Rep’s Education program and professional actors. Some actors are part of Florida Rep’s Conservatory programs, some local talent, some Florida Rep’s acting interns for the season, some acting apprentices specific to this show, and some Equity actors. It was really fun to see how the show came together, and I thought it was done very well.
I saw the show on opening night, which happened to be the same day that the legendary Stephen Sondheim passed. This cast and crew more than honored him with this extraordinary production, and it was a special moment for all.
I absolutely encourage you to buy your tickets to Florida Rep’s WEST SIDE STORY soon – they’re selling out! The show runs through December 15. This is one of my personal favorites from Florida Rep, and I know you will love it too. To buy tickets and for more information, click here: https://www.floridarep.org/the-season/west-side-story/