"West Side Story"

Music Theatre Louisville

By Wally Stewart

Music Theatre Louisville opened its tenth anniversary season with June's impressive production of "West Side Story." This modern version of "Romeo and Juliet" marked a move from the Iroquois Amphitheater to the Macauley Theatre and welcomed visitors to MTL's new home in grand fashion.

The audience was pulled into the fierce racial tension between the Jets and the Sharks during the whirlwind ballet movements of "The Rumble" and "Dance At the Gym," while brief relaxation was found in the classic songs of "Maria," "Tonight"and "Somewhere."

Artistic Director Kathyrn Meade Paris and choreographer Debbie Decker masterfully met the challenge of Jerome Robbins' choreography. The dance numbers moved splendidly, whether expressing youthful celebration or impending danger.

The absurdities of bigotry were crystallized in the tragic love of Maria and Tony, who have to meet secretly simply because they are of different nationalities. As Maria, Collette Delaney drove this home after Tony's murder, with her sweeping indictment of both gangs – "We all killed him!"

Delaney was impressive as she depicted the emotions of a young girl first experiencing the excitement of love, then being hit with the harsh realities of life. Her vocals shone, especially in duets with Jeff Bodnar. Bodnar played Tony with enthusiasm, his face gleaming as he sang of and with Maria.

Sherry Gilpin was the spirited Anita and displayed a powerful voice. Paul Clausen and Michael Rivera were convincing as fifties-style gang leader Riff and Bernardo. Karen Joy. Caprino was superb as the trying-to-belong girl-Anybody, as were Herbert Metzler, Sr., Clint Vaught and Rick Magallon in the roles of Doc, Lt. Shrank and Officer Krupke. Vaught also directed the fight scenes and the orchestra was conducted by David Harmon.

There were some moments when the vocals were not clearly heard, but this did not severely detract from the performance.

Upcoming Music Theatre Louisville productions this season include "Little Shop of Horrors," July 26-29 and August 2-4 and "Evita," August 16-19 and August 23-25 s