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Best production you've seen? Why? 
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Post Best production you've seen? Why?
I never miss a production of this, my favorite musical. And in seeing so many productions, I notice little touches that bring characters to life, little innovations in staging that make us look at the show afresh.

I've seen plenty of good productions--very recently I saw one in Trenton, NJ where Maria was played far more saucily than I've seen before. (When Anita ordered her home "in fifteen minutes", Maria snapped a military salute.) And I rather liked some of the ad-libs--instead of that ridiculous "we're gonna name all our kids after you, Doc," Tony said, "We're gonna live in the country--that'll make all the difference--and our kids are never gonna know about guns or gangs..."

But even that production hasn't yet measured up to the best one I've seen so far, a very small production by a local youth theater that was in a very small venue. The small size of the production actually worked in the show's favor...it was so initmate that we were involved in the tragedy.

There were some changes in the staging...the only participants in the Somewhere Ballet were the dance-doubles for Tony and Maria, and later on, Riff and Bernardo in the fight re-enactment. But it worked that way.

The actors were appropriately young, but spot-on in their acting. They really SEEMED like hot-blooded gang members. Baby John actually WAS thirteen or fourteen, showing up the difference between him and the older teen gang members. And the adults WERE adults.

There were all sorts of little touches that made the characters real. The "extras" reacted to the onstage action--not just standing around like scenery with a pulse. (For example, during the finale, one of the Jet girls looked as though she wanted to reach out and comfort Maria, but didn't quite know how.)

During one of the dance segments of "America", Anita gave Rosalia a sly kick in the tail!

But the best part was this production's Tony. Unlike, say, Richard Beymer, he was completely believable both as tough street kid AND as lover from the get-go. He filled his performance with all kinds of touches that brought it to life--for example, when Maria asked him his full name, he paused and said "Anton," with an embarrassed smile as if he'd never liked the name.

His ad-libs (I know the script so well that I can tell where the ad-libs and departures are) worked in the show's favor--he changed his pre- "Somewhere" dialogue a bit, sounding almost calm at first, then breaking apart, looking at Maria, and dissolving into tears.

And the finale...oh, the finale. Tony's cries for Chino to come get him seemed as much homicidal as suicidal: "CHINO--COME GET ME, YOU SON OF A B!ITCH!!!" And then, overwhelming joy as he saw Maria alive...and then that gunshot. And, as he lay dying in Maria's arms, Tony sobbed aloud in rage and frustration at the unfairness of it all.

Just INCREDIBLE.

So...what's the best production of WSS you've ever seen, and what touches made it stand out for you?

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Fri May 30, 2008 12:50 pm
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Post Re: Best production you've seen? Why?
Jennifer Lynn wrote:
And I rather liked some of the ad-libs--instead of that ridiculous "we're gonna name all our kids after you, Doc," Tony said, "We're gonna live in the country--that'll make all the difference--and our kids are never gonna know about guns or gangs..."



I really like that line...

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Fri May 30, 2008 2:42 pm
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I saw a high school production of WSS that was really amazing. It probably doesn't qualify of the best production of WSS for me, but it certainly was the best high school production. For me, the crisp execution of the original Robbins choreography, the realistic passion of the actors, and the age-appropriate casting of the gang members really made the difference. The set was representative, but completely filled the needs of the show and never distracted from the action.


Sat May 31, 2008 10:56 am
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Post Re: Best production you've seen? Why?
Catherine wrote:
Jennifer Lynn wrote:
And I rather liked some of the ad-libs--instead of that ridiculous "we're gonna name all our kids after you, Doc," Tony said, "We're gonna live in the country--that'll make all the difference--and our kids are never gonna know about guns or gangs..."



I really like that line...


Which one?

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Sat May 31, 2008 11:34 am
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The "We'll name all of our kids after you" line... I don't really know why.

But I guess the ad-libbed line is more Tony-ish

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Sat May 31, 2008 12:46 pm
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I think age appropriate casting is really the most key to an effective production of WSS.

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Mon Jun 02, 2008 12:26 am
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