“West Side Story” comes to Orlando

By Nikki Namdar
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Arthur Laurent’s live rendition of “West Side Story” hit the stage of Orlando’s Bob Carr Performing Arts Center on Thursday bringing in hundreds of people in the audience with remarkable acting and vocals by Ali Ewoldt as Maria and Kylie Harris as Tony.

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s classic, “Romeo and Juliet,” this musical executes Shakespeare’s story in an entirely different way. If you liked “Romeo and Juliet,” you will surely enjoy this dark play. Set in the 1950s in New York, two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, dispute over territory.

A forbidden love soon forms when Maria, sister of Sharks’ head honcho Bernardo, and Tony, former Jets member meet each other at a dance. The romance angered many and the story took a sharp turn when Tony was shot and killed by Chino, who was in love with Maria. Prior to this, Maria’s brother, Bernardo, and Tony’s “like a brother” Riff both died after a fight between the two. The numerous deaths opened the eyes of everyone around, and allowed them to realize that hate and violence is unnecessary and that we are all equal despite skin color or where you are from.

Unfortunately, it takes tragedy to inspire people to realize that differences don’t make a difference. That is what this play is really about. Not only is it a love story but it is is teaching and people should be learning.

This is a story of life’s common enemies: love and hate, happiness and tragedy, right and wrong, war and peace. It also tied in civil rights. The actors, the stage appearance and costume designs captured the feel of 1950s New York and what was going on inside of it.

This classic tale creates a mix of emotions; it’s going to make you laugh, it’s going to make you cry and it’s going to make you angry. You are going to leave the theatre enlightened because it teaches you, regardless of demographic, to accept people and that it’s okay to love someone who comes from the other side.

The Bob Carr was offering student rush tickets. They were $20 each and the best available seating was only available for purchase with a student ID two hours prior to the show at the theater’s box office. The show ran from Feb. 4-6.

To find out more about upcoming shows that the Bob Carr Performing Center has to offer, visit: http://www.orlandovenues.net.