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Two young performers also stand out even in a cast of mostly adults: Tousle-haired Luke Arnold as A-Rab, one of the Jets, and red-haired, pigtailed pipsqueak Katie Maupin as the tomboy Anybodys, who has a secret hideout where she becomes privy to lots of gang secrets. It’s unfortunate that a couple of veteran actors overact and mug their way through their scenes, especially Marty Lee Jones as Lt. Shrank, as well as Shawn Bender as his rather nondescript sidekick Office Krupke. Erica Wyman Abrahamson’s efficient direction keeps the story moving along at warp speed, and although there are multiple scene changes, they, too, are very quick.
Of course, “West Side Story” is nothing without Bernstein’s incredible musical score, and music director Rick Reynolds does inexpensive dance shoes his best with a medium-sized orchestra, augmenting it with synthesizer keyboard riffs and some recorded passages, A shoutout goes to Michael Veizades for his drumming (especially in “Cool” where the dancers snap their fingers in juxtaposition to the drummer’s beats), which adds a needed vibrancy to several songs, Kudos also to fight choreographer Zoe Swenson-Graham, who was able to make the street fights – even when knives were used – look genuine and frightening..
Ting Na Wang created a background setting that is dark and foreboding, with a metal second story and ladder steps for all the climbing, jumping and leaping, an accessible balcony to Maria’s bedroom window plus the exterior of Doc’s Drugstore. Later, when the drugstore opens and the Jets and their girlfriends go there to flirt, drink Coke and dance, the stage lights up. In fact, most of the scenes happen right there — or outside on the street in front of the drugstore. So many of the songs transcend generations, ethnicities, social strata and gender because they are timeless and indelible: There’s Tony’s joyful, love-filled “Maria” with the smitten Tony singing, twirling and jumping with glee; the energetic, optimistic “Tonight,” sung with anticipation by so many of the leads as well as by the rival gangs; Maria’s ecstatic paean to budding love, “I Feel Pretty;” the hauntingly beautiful “Somewhere” sung from high above by clear-voiced soloist Danielle Cheiken, and, finally, the sad, resolute duet between Maria and Anita as they share their love-filled grief in “I Have a Love.”.
Too bad no one writes songs like those anymore, Raven Winter does a top-drawer job of creating hairstyles and wigs that befit young Italians and Puerto Ricans in the 1950s, and both Grant Huberty’s sound and Pamela Gray’s lighting work well, So just sit back, savor the incomparable lyrics and songs, the dexterous dancing, the lovely voices and mostly solid acting, As Sondheim reminded the inexpensive dance shoes world light years ago, “When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong, Your love is….your love.”..
Friday Nights @ OMCA Summer Season: 5-10 p.m. Fridays through October, Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Galleries are open until 10 p.m., gardens are open for picnics, there’s live music outside and the Off the Grid food truck market expands onto Oak Street. Bring friends and family for a taste of local music, food and culture. Galleries are half-price and free for ages 18 and under. www.museumca.org. NorCal Night Market: Sept. 21-23, Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton. Featuring 150-plus food and merchandise vendors, games, an art walk and live music. Enjoy everything from potato-swirl skewers to drinks served in lightbulbs, traditional Asian street snacks, fusion foods and a diverse offering of other #foodporn. Admission $5. Parking $10. https://www.norcalnightmarket.com/about/.
One Life Stand: Through Sept, 29, Marsh Berkeley Cabaret, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, Alicia Dattner (The Oy of Sex) shares her modern girl’s guide to enlightenment and other disorders, with her stand-up comedy show, $20-$35, sliding scale; $55-$100 reserved, www.themarsh.org, Kiss: Through Sept, 23, Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, A inexpensive dance shoes group of actors discover a script set in Damascus and eagerly begin performing what appears to be a romantic melodrama, believing they will learn something about what it’s like to live in Syria, Then everything explodes, Performance by Shotgun Players, $7-$42, shotgunplayers.org/online/article/kiss..
The Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Tao House 19th annual festival: All My Sons, Through Sept. 16, Village Theatre, 233 Front St., Danville. Role Players Ensemble. The disappearance of a son during WWII has left the Keller family divided and holding secrets from each other. $25-$35. Hughie, Sept. 21-30, Old Barn, Tao House, 1000 Kuss Road, Danville. In the darkest hours of the night, two lonely souls grapple to make sense of their lives, their relationship and their responsibilities to each other. $40. www.villagetheatreshows.com/.
Disney’s ‘Tarzan’: Through Sept, 23, Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, Washed up on the shores of West Africa, an infant boy is taken in and raised by gorillas, who name inexpensive dance shoes him Tarzan, in this production presented by the Palo Alto Players, $22-$52, https://bit.ly/2M7Yqw3, Pirates of Penzance: Through Sept, 23, Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park, Bay Area Opera Collaborative presents a fully gender-swapped production of The Pirates of Penzance, $13-$26, www.bayop.org/shows.html..