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Crimes of Passion in the classic West Side Story at the Little Theatre of Alexandria

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Jul 26,2016
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,
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Photo by Matt Liptak
Lexie McEntire (Maria)

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - The Little Theatre of Alexandria has had a love affair recently with British plays, so it was with enthusiasm that the regulars in attendance on opening night connected with this all-American, passionate, raw, red-blooded classic musical, West Side Story.  The audience reacted with cheers to the opening numbers in this tragic romance written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.   The plot is based on the star-crossed love of Romeo and Juliet, set amidst the social problems of a low-income, mixed ethnicity neighborhood in the inner city of New York in the late 1950’s.

Little Theatre producers Lynn O’Connell, Kevin O’Dowd, and Eddie Page pulled together a full-on production with a live 19-piece orchestra situated on a balcony above the set on stage.  The live music added to the emotional impact of the tale, and set off the young leads’ voices to good effect.

Action was performed before a clever set designed by Dan Remmers, with very good ultra-modern jazz and ballet choreography by Stefan Sittig.  The set depicted a grimy New York street exterior, with rust washing down the fire escapes and it stood in contrast to the bright 50’s style flared dresses worn by the girls.  Costumes were handled by a very experienced and talented team that has been associated with LTA for many years, Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley, with the addition of the work of Grant Kevin Lane.

Theater-goer Liz of Arlington commented, “This show requires a depth of talent, and they really had it.”  Carolyn Terry of Philadelphia traveled with her extended family to see her cousin Jasmine Jones sing a solo as a Shark gang girl. Said Terry, as the family gathered out front for a photo op with the young actress, “The acting was superb, the way they depicted the love between the couple.  You could really feel the emotion.”

Director Susan Devine noted, “I had such a wonderful cast and crew, that everything came together.  The story line transcends any setting, could take place anywhere, anytime.”  With regard to casting, Devine commented, “We searched far and wide for the male lead, and he did a wonderful job.” The male lead is Tony, played by Ben Peter. Peter returns to the LTA after a performance in the recent “History Boys.”  His satin bari-tenor voice carried the role and was a pleasure to listen to.  Tony’s love interest is Maria, played by Lexie McEntire. She is active in college theater at Belmont University in North Carolina.  Her crystal clear soprano voice conveyed emotion through the melody.  At the curtain call, the audience rose to their feet to give the cast an enthusiastic standing ovation.  As a reviewer, I would say, that’s all you need to know.

West Side Story runs until August 13, 2016. Tickets are available at www.thelittletheatre.com. The LTA is located at Wolfe St. and South St. Asaph St. in Old Town Alexandria.  Street parking is available.

Photo by Matt Liptak
Ari Halvorsen (Baby John), Sean Cator (Snowboy), Derek Marsh (Action), Chris Galindo (Bernardo), Patrick Kearney (Big Deal), Dwayne Allen (A-Rab), Jeffrey Hollands (Diesel)
Photo by Matt Liptak
Cast of West Side Story
Photo by Matt Liptak
Cast of West Side Story
Photo by Matt Liptak
Ben Peter (Tony)
Photo by Matt Liptak
Tahara Robinson (Anita) and Lexie McEntire (Maria)
Photo by Matt Liptak
Tahara Robinson (Anita) and Jacquline Salvador (Consuelo)
Photo by Matt Liptak
Ari Halvorsen (Baby John), Patrick Kearney (Big Deal), Miryam Mendelson (Graziella), Cassie Cope (Anybodys), Jeffrey Hollands (Diesel), Fred Lash (Doc), Caitlyn Goerner (Minnie), Caroline Griswold Short (Clarice)
Photo by Matt Liptak
Jet Girls
Photo by Matt Liptak
Jet Guys and Girls





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