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Fortunately choreographer Allison Paraiso and the large ensemble are up to the task in director Rachel Robinson’s Berkeley Playhouse production. The dancing is lively and lovely throughout, from rumbles and dance-offs to a dreamlike fantasia. Here the star-crossed lovers are Tony and Maria. Though both almost impossibly innocent, Tony is a former member of white street gang the Jets and its leader’s best friend, and Maria is the sister of the leader of the Puerto Rican Sharks professional ballet shoes. Ana Paula Malagón is a wonderfully sweet Maria with a beautiful soprano voice, and Will Skrip is brimming with wide-eyed enthusiasm as Tony..
It’s hard to make the Jets seem like anything other than leering sociopaths, between all the racism, a jolly jokey musical number right after the death of a close friend and what’s pretty clearly an attempted rape scene. (There’s no particular “PG-13” content warning for this show, although all-ages company Berkeley Playhouse offers a “Family Guide” on its website detailing potentially thorny aspects of every show in its season.). This production, however, seems to highlight the gang members’ youth as a possibly extenuating factor professional ballet shoes. Interestingly, their ostensible leader Riff comes off as perhaps the most fresh-faced of all, portrayed with callow boyishness by Danila Burshteyn. Jenny Angell stands out amid this boisterous crowd as Anybodys, the much-derided tomboy desperate to join the gang..
David J. Bohnet plays Bernardo with prideful dignity, and Vida Mae Fernandez is a forceful and sultry Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend and Maria’s friend and de facto mentor. Cristina Hernandez is amusingly insistent as Rosalia, the young woman who faces off with Anita in the popular ditty “America,” and also sings a pleasant but unmoving rendition of “Somewhere.”. Among the adults, Ron Dritz is a halting Doc, the drugstore proprietor, while Tim Holt Jones doubles as a frankly racist police lieutenant and the mincingly ineffectual organizer of the dance mixer professional ballet shoes.
Overall it’s a strong, capable production, set amid evocative urban scenery by Sarah Phykitt with a cool bridge view over curiously petite buildings. But it’s really the score that’s the star of this show, and the cast and orchestra led by co-music directors Daniel Feyer and Eric Walton nicely convey the majesty of Bernstein’s mellifluous melodies. Contact Sam Hurwitt at [email protected], and follow him at Twitter.com/shurwitt. By Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, presented by Berkeley Playhouse professional ballet shoes.
CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing these photos on a mobile device. Chef-partner JB Balingit struck gold in his family’s first endeavor at Lafayette’s cozy Hideout Kitchen. So when the group — Balingit, his wife Astrid, her sister Rose and Rose’s husband, Lourin — set out to open a new restaurant in Martinez, the plan stayed much the same: Simply provide a comfortable environment, good comfort food and friendly service. And they’ve done it professional ballet shoes. Vic’s (named for Balingit’s grandfather) is already doing great business despite a location a fair distance from downtown Martinez. The word has clearly gotten out about the American classics, served in generous portions, available there..