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    First look on the suicidal squad and their new look.

Jori on the Scene: West Side Story

Finally I got the chance to watch West Side Story last September 12, 2008 at the Meralco Theater. And just like what I expect, the presentation is a one to remember.

West Side Story is a re imagination of the Shakespearean Classic Love Story Romeo and Juliet, putting Tony (Christian Bautista) and Maria (Karylle) on the spotlight. Tony and Maria fell in love with each other despite that they belong to two rivaling gang separated by conflict and ethnic hatred. The American Jets headed by Riff (Gian Magdangal) had always pledged an eternal battle against the Puerto Rican Sharks led by Bernardo(Jake Macapagal) to win the price as the rulers of the entire West Side streets. And as Tony and Maria's Romance grow, the fire ignited by the gangs grew with it sending everybody to a fiery and tragic end.

West Side Story is a musical based on Arthur Laurents' book with Leonard Bernstein's Music and Stephen Sondheim's Lyrics. The show is adapted by Stages productions, Produced by Audie Gemora and Directed by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.

The show is full of dance numbers remembering Direk Menchu's remark about the difficulty of looking for actors who are triple threats, actors who can sing, dance and act at the same time. But eventually they've assembled a stellar cast of Triple Threats including the main cast's Rowena Vilar who played Anita, Jake Macapagal who played as Bernardo, Gian Magdangal who played Riff and Jeff Singson who played Chino. I enjoyed watching these guys dancing. And this is not just street dancing like we all know. This are lively jazz dance that are really very hard to perform while singing and acting. I commend Gian Magdangal for proving his worth as a triple threat in this production and make those jealous entertainment correspondents wannabe eat what they just said about him when he joined the production.

My praises also goes for Christian and Karylle. Before, both pop artists has been a talk of the town and blogosphere. People think the two can't pull the character out and they are just mere theater performer wannabes. Me myself is surprised by Karylle and Christian. They both did well in acting and obviously in singing and I guess Direk Menchu will not choose them if they are not really worthy of the said characters.

The most colorful character that my eye never left is the character of Anita played by Rowena Vilar. Her lively personality and loud facade makes her difficult to ignore, not to mention combined with the beauty of a Filipino-Australian actress. Rowena's dancing and singing prowess alone is enough prerequisites for her to grab the role and indeed her performance as Anita will definitely add another great performance on her resume.

Again, stages had offered us another high quality entertainment extravaganza off course not possible without the initiative of the Executive Producer Audie Gemora who played Riff back in 1981 production and talented supervision of Director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo who played Maria 27 years ago. Direk Menchu did well in bringing back this classic musical back in the modern world packaging it for the new generation of theater lovers.

Although West Side story ends with a tragedy, the production is well received and everyone loves it.

In case you haven't seen it, you still have the chance. West Side Story will continue it's last leg of performances this October starting on the 3rd, still in Meralco Theater. And for tickets, contact Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log in to www.ticketworld.com.ph to inquire for schedules and ticket prices.

photos by Jojit Lorenzo.

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