BY HAILEE YAEGER
Cooper City High School’s Drama Club put on a production of West Side Story on October 4-6, 2011 and to see a high school come together to do such a big name show was impressive.
West Side Story, written by Jerome Robbins, is set in the mid 1950’s, a time when many Puerto Ricans were moving to New York City. This interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two warring New York City gangs- the Caucasian Jets, led by Riff; and the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Bernardo. The hatred between the two gangs escalates to the point where they can’t coexist. In this turmoil, former Jet Tony meets Maria, Bernardo’s sister, and love blossoms. Maria and Tony begin meeting in secret and plan to run away together. Suddenly when the Sharks and Jets want to settle who gains control over the streets they plan a rumble, Maria sends Tony in hopes of stopping it, wanting to end the violence. Sadly, it goes terribly wrong and ends in heartbreak.
Overall the show was great. The Jets were all very likable and gave everyone a few good laughs, as did the Sharks. The most memorable moment was certainly a close call between “Dance At The Gym”, a loud, fun dance scene, and “Gee Officer Krupke”, starring the Jets as they explain why they are such “punks” giving the audience a laugh from their acting and gestures.
Besides the fun loving parts of the show there were also several touching moments between Tony and Maria that tugged at your heartstrings. Senior Natalie McPherson did a wonderful job portraying Maria, putting everything she had into the performance. Her singing was beautiful and airy, and sent chills down my spine, especially during “One Hand, One Heart”, which she sang with co-star Junior Nate Promkul, who played Tony. Another stand out scene for McPherson was “I Feel Pretty”, one of the most well known songs from West Side Story. McPherson was especially adorable in the scene and looked happy as danced carefree about her bedroom while getting ready for the dance. Throughout the show McPherson’s acting was extraordinary. She could turn her emotions on and off, acting joyous one minute and then bursting into tears the next.
The other stand out performance was Tony, played by Promkul. His acting was great and his singing was even better, with his gentle, powerful voice reaching the crowd and reeling them in. “Something’s Coming”, Tony’s main solo, was done very well, his hopefulness gave you a sense of hope as well, that something good really might be coming. Another stand out vocal performance was “Maria”, Promkul looked as if cupid hit him while singing it.
The chemistry between the two leads was undeniable and it was beautiful to watch Tony and Maria’s love at first sight blossom much deeper as the show goes on.
A role that shouldn’t go unnoticed though is Anita, played by Senior Melissa Bibliowitz. She had a very convincing Spanish accent, even singing with it in scenes such as the fun, lively performance of “America”. Although the song that made her shine was the duet performed with McPherson, “A Boy Like That/ I Have A Love”. Her dark powerful voice expressing her anger and hurt was extremely emotional. Bibliowitz’s acting had the same effect as her singing, and was thoroughly convincing.
Overall, West Side Story could be one of the CCHS drama club’s greatest shows yet.