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JETS AND SHARKS IN SEATTLE

Last night Mrs. Greenbean and I escaped away to the city and left our little sprouts behind.  I shudder to think what they got away with while we were away, but that is another blog for another day.  We had a very nice and luxurious dinner.  Mrs. Greenbean had a seared chicken and I had the pork tenderloin, but the highlight was the outstanding chicken noodle soup.  After dinner was over, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Paramount Theater for the main event, two tickets to a revival production of West Side Story.  We had a great time.  As I wake up this morning and get the girls off to school and drink my morning coffee I”m still thinking about last night.

For starters, I was very surprised at how contemporary the immigrant story feels.  The cultural clash between “normal Americans” and Spanish speaking immigrants is something that could have been developed this year.  It is hard to believe that it was written in the 1950’s.  Of course, we must remember that the plot is stolen directly from Romeo and Juliet.  For my money, I still prefer Shakespeare because he has the courage to kill Juliet in the end (unlike Maria) and Genoa is way cooler than New York.  However, Bernstein and Sondheim are much more singable than the Bard.

In a technical sense, the production was very good.  All of the singers were very strong.  We felt like the strongest actor was the woman who played Anita.  My program tells me her name is Michelle Aravena.  The lead of Tony was strong, but Anita was the best actor on stage.  I never believed the actress playing Maria as a true ingenue.  Something was just missing from her performance.

The stage construction and set designs were outstanding.  I particularly liked the “Rumble” underneath the highway.  The way they built the set, where the action takes place behind a chain-link fence was compelling.  You’d expect a barrier like that to distance the audience, but it had the opposite result in me–it drew me in.  The orchestra was, as always, fantastic.

The show was at the Paramount Theater in Seattle and that is always a treat.  The layout of the theater is old-school and grand with lots of gaudy decorations.  The Paramount also features the coldest water I’ve ever drank from a drinking fountain.

At intermission I took a survey of those in attendance.  It was a full house and I didn’t see a single seat open.  The crowd was very gray–I’d say the average age of those there was at least 60.  It was clear the revival of this old favorite appeals mostly to Baby Boomers.  However, there were also a few younger than us folks but most of these were the typical Seattle arts crowd with people dressed all in black.

The show runs until January 15.

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