A must-see production: ‘West Side Story’ at the Bickford in Morris Township

By Geri Silk

I just had to write about this. You see, I’ve already seen West Side Story at the Bickford three times, in homage to the one time I saw it, April 2, 1963, at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York.

I literally remember where I was sitting as a high school student, when I experienced this musical which inexplicably changed my life forever. It was at that moment that I knew that I would be making my living in the arts, as I do now…as a creative arts therapist, dancer and writer.

West Side Story at the Bickford Theatre

The New Jersey Youth Theatre presents 'West Side Story' at the Bickford Theatre through July 28, 2013.

The lush and exuberant score by Leonard Bernstein, the terse and taut lyrics by Stephen Sondheim–they captured my adolescent soul and enthusiasm. Songs like Something’s Coming, Maria, and Tonight transcend the score and reach to the heart of the Great American Song Book.

The pulsating choreography by Jerome Robbins titillates the erotic curiosity of anyone coming of age in America.

The New Jersey Youth Theater has produced this startling reproduction of this American treasure.

For the next three days you may view it at the Bickford Theatre, at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morris Township.

This is not summer stock; it’s possibly the greatest show to have graced the Bickford’s stage to date.

The remaining performances are Friday, July 26, 2013, at at 1 pm and 8 pm; Saturday, July 27, at 2 pm and Sunday, July 28, at 2 pm.  Tickets: $20-$35. Box office: 973-971-3706.

Why is this show worth seeing:

A scene from the New Jersey Youth Theatre production of 'West Side Story.'

A scene from the New Jersey Youth Theatre production of 'West Side Story.'

It is very rare that the National Endowment for the Arts filters monies down through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to such a young and relatively new group.

This Jersey group will also tour the arts center at Centenary College in August. So if you want to catch it here– up close and personal– step through Morris Museum’s doors to see quintessential theater at its best.

What makes this production of West Side Story so rare is that the players actually inhabit the souls of the original characters–the mysterious Bernardo, the luscious Anita.

Maria captures Natalie Woods’ dewy eyed innocence, and the nuanced voice of Tony gives a strong emotional tug.

The live orchestra reminds us of why we go to experience living theater. Bernstein’s complicated rhythms will chill and tantalize you on a hot summer night.

Geri Silk is a Dance Movement Therapist, poet, and amateur flute player in the Morristown area.



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