Del Oro High School’s Theatre Arts
Department, headed by ‘Sir’ Jeffrey Johnson, and The Company director,
Shere ‘Mama Jones’ Freedman, have done it again: tackled a
mega-musical and staged it in Loomis brilliantly. The audacious cast,
production, design, and technical teams are undaunted by “big.” When
people say incredulously “You’re doing West Side Story?” they
respond with a resounding, “Let’s get started.”
And so if you’re looking for a night
of exciting music, lots of fighting and dancing, you’ll find it at Del
Oro High School. The Placer Youth Orchestra, conducted by Marjorie
Hartung, brings Leonard Bernstein’s romantic, lively, and threatening
music to life.
The sets are simple yet successful
in creating the bridal shop, the drugstore, the fire escape and balcony
which allows two young lovers to kiss.
Gangs fighting each other for dumb
reasons, Jets, the white kids who think they’re the “real” Americans,
and Sharks, newer Americans from Puerto Rico, punch, push, and knock
each other around on the bare stage bathed in blood red light, enhancing
the tenseness, futility, danger.
Emma Claire Brock as Maria sings
beautifully with a clear soprano voice. She got a laugh from the
audience when she warned Tony, “This is dangerous,” after he leaps up to
her balcony, then in the next breath lands a big kiss on him. Collin
Smith, as Tony, sings, “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,” “One Hand, One
Heart,” and delivers them all well. Emma and Collin join voices in
duets and enthrall the audience.
Romantic moods are shattered by
rhythm and dance as the Jets and the Sharks take the stage. The fight
choreography is dynamic; the dancers fast moving and muscular. There
are too many cast members to name everyone in this excellent production,
but a few who stand out are Connor Mize as Diesel, Taylor Follett, as
Anita, Charlie Patelzick, as Action, Trafton Hopkins, as Juano, and
Mason Beseler, as Bernardo.