Absolutely. Freaking. Awesome.
Burroughs’ performance of West Side Story last Saturday night amazed even fans well acquainted with the high bar of excellence of the Performing Arts Department.
The studio-quality sound, lighting and sets are by now the standard operating procedure. And the live orchestra and the singers routinely rise to college-level.
But last night was special, even for Burroughs. Arya Desai’s (Maria) angel voice just didn’t rise, it soared. And she navigated the notes with beautiful precision, as in the chromatic lead-in to “Somewhere.” Coen Sosa’s (Tony) rich tenor voice shone in solo pieces like “Maria” and also perfectly complemented Desia’s romantic soprano. Whatever the star-crossed fate their characters were to suffer, their duets were a match made in heaven.
Janina Colucci (Anita) knew how to put fire in her singing, in keeping with her smoldering character. Trenton Rogers (Riff) knew how to convey the right mix of toughness and vulnerability, and gave the show a rousing start.
Everyone—not just the leads—were at the top of their game. They weren’t just singing superbly, they were acting superbly. Usually, it takes men in their early twenties to credibly play teenagers; actual male teens are deemed too immature. Not so with these guys. The men had the chops to own the Jets and the Sharks. And as for the women, you get the feeling any one of them would already be a serious contender for a lead role in a local theatrical production.
And as if all that wasn’t enough to blow the audience away, there was the dancing. Oh, was there ever. Serious dancing. Dancing that did justice to Jerome Robbins’ demanding choreography: The “Mambo” at the high school gym. The “America” dance off in 9/4 time. The coiled-snake “Cool” scene, the sudden bursts in the rumbles between the gangs. The quiet grace in the “Somewhere” scene. The hilarious “Gee, Officer Krupke” set piece. Throughout the musical, the dancers combined spontaneity with well-defined movements and did not let their tremendous energy flag for a single second.
“This year we’re blessed with a large group of triple-threat performers,” remarked Vocal Director Brendan Jennings during the intermission. And how.