ROLLED-up shirt sleeves and poodle skirts are things of the 50s. But Mediartrix’s major production for this year, an adaptation of the famous Broadway musical, the West Side Story, refashions just those last Feb. 4 and 5 at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium.

The story, familiar to many, is about two rival gangs in New York—the Jets (Americans) and the Sharks (Puerto Ricans). Tony, a former Jet, is friend to Jets leader, Riff. In a ball, he meets Maria, the sister of the Sharks boss Bernardo, and immediately falls for her. They hide their affair, because they belong to conflicting different worlds.

An adaptation of a famous Broadway musical such as West Side Story requires excellence, if not absolute perfection, to make it work. Mediartrix delivered some of the key elements, but the minor details affected its overall impact.

Take technical difficulties, for example. The main characters used lapels for their dialogue and singing, which did not help as their voices were hardly heard, much less understood. Feedbacks worsened the already low sound quality. The production could have invested more on voice projection.

The musical scores were also not much help. Instead of using the original background music, the group used the scores with lyrics, which in effect became a battle between the characters’ voices and the voices from the score itself—the voices from the score most of the time, if not always, overlapped the voices of the leading characters.

The acting, particularly of the lead roles, was not appalling, but it wasn’t exceptional either. A little more focus on the acting would have improved the production.

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Despite negative aspects, the production deserves some praise. Kudos to Deanna Suba, a Nursing student, who portrayed Anita, Bernardo’s wife. She gave an outstanding performance as a widower (after Bernardo’s death). Her dance routine in the hit song, “America,” was not bad either. Her Puerto Rican accent combined with exaggerated and intense acting went well for the production.

The stage design generated a 1950s feel. Along with appropriate lighting, props, and fancy costumes, one can say the musical was not penny-pinching. While the production was good as a whole, it still lacked the elements needed to create spectacle onstage. The Mediartrix, however, is one organization laden with potential, as can be gleaned from past showings. They can still improve.

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