Thursday, October 6, 2016
At the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, idealistic young lovers Maria and Tony find themselves caught between rival street gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice is one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, and relevant musical dramas of our time. West Side Story‘s legendary jazz, Latin, and classical-inspired score features the treasured songs “Something‘s Coming,“ “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “America.“
I didn't find anyone to take the second seat. I also had a drink ticket, so I ordered a red wine at Harriet's bar before the show. Several kids getting snacks at the bar had never seen the show before, so the lady behind the counter let them know the they were in for a treat. I sat house right and pretty far back, so my sketching wouldn't disturb anyone. This show is incredibly timely. Each show is done in honor of a victim of the Pulse tragedy of June 12th. Angel wings were on display in the lobby and a photo and biography was on the display.
In the second act Tony and Maria dream of a place far away from street gang and violence. The idyllic song "Somewhere" in this show featured gang members and the women dressed all in white and they danced and played like children. There was in once and joy in the dance. I found myself crying. It was beautifully choreographed and I'm certain it was inspired be the violence that has traumatized Orlando. Towards the end of the song all the dancers lifted their arms, and they seemed to float blissfully above the stage.
So many of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting we Puerto Rican thus the prejudice an hate against them seemed as if it had been written yesterday. In a world where labels define us all, how can there be a time for us or a place for us? That is why I found myself crying. Nothing has change since the 1960 when the play first hit the stage.
Both Marc Koeck who played Tony and Carlee Evans who played Maria had amazing voices. I was swept away, safe in the darkness of the theater. I slipped away during the uproar of the standing ovation. I didn't want to break the spell by clapping. I let the emotion linger and wash over me on the drive home. People want to forget. A committee vetoed some of my sketches of Pulse vigils from being projected on the Sun Trust Bank during this month's Creative City Project. We are only strong if we remember and don't sweep aside the loss. We hope for change but it never comes. But we can never give up.
You don't want to miss this show.