Graceful Gang Rivalry: A Review of Broadway Across Canada’s West Side Story | By Tylar Hamblett

Who knew a deadly rivalry between gangs could be so graceful? This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending Broadway Across Canada’s West Side Story right here in Edmonton at the Jubilee Auditorium. What a beautiful performance and a classic piece of theatre. Each actor portrayed their character with much emotion and by the time the curtain closed it felt as if the audience knew each one of them personally. This truly is a love story of the ages, even though I knew how it was going to end, the emotion brought forth by Tony and Maria; actors Jarrad Burton Green and Mary Joanna Grisso respectively, held the audience captive for the entirety of the play. All I wanted was for them to get away and be together, even though I knew that it would instead end tragically. This tale of two lovers who are caught on either sides of a gang rivalry in New York is both breathtakingly sad and beautiful. Even though it is a play set in the mid 50s it stands the test of time and can be loved by any and all who enjoy a good musical.

The sets were minimalist but were still able to transport you to the very streets the Sharks and the Jets were fighting over. The scene in which a “rumble” between the gangs takes place under a bridge, they placed a chain link fence between us –the audience– and the actors themselves allowing it to feel as if we were truly the rivalry between the Sharks and Jets, who only wanted a space of their own.

One of my favorite aspects of the musical itself was the gracefulness of the dance, every motion made by each member of the Sharks or the Jets was executed beautifully. If only real fights were fought with dance. Each kick, trip, and hit flowed beautifully to the next blow that was to be laid. I have never found such beauty in anger. These boys felt misunderstood, like it was them against the world. All they had was the streets, and they needed to protect them.

But the boys aren’t the only ones who can dance, the ladies of the Sharks also show us what they’ve got during the number ‘America’ which showcases the amazing talent of Anita, played by Michelle Alves and the rest of the Shark girls while they sing about the wonders of America and compare it to their birthplace, Puerto Rico.

When the curtains went up and the actors began to bow, they were met with a standing ovation, which they truly deserved. Once again Broadway Across America brought us a beautifully well put together show.

Playing at the Northern Alberta Jubliee Auditorium Feb 18-23 you can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.

Photo of Broadway Canada’s West Side Story Cast Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

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