July 15th, 2016

wss cool knees by skybound2

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CT Rep's Respectful 'West Side Story' Hyperstylized, Dance-Driven

By Christopher Arnott•Contact Reporter

There's still a place for "West Side Story," the landmark 1957 musical that turns street fighting into modern dance and resets "Romeo and Juliet" as a racially charged story of forbidden love in New York City.

"West Side Story," which closes the Nutmeg Summer Series at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, doesn't harshly dramatize issues of violence and bigotry the way a lot of contemporary theater does. It softens and romanticizes them. The performers here are dancers, not fighters. There's little danger or menace in their fluid movements.

But that didn't stop me from blubbering at the show's end as the final gunshot rang out in a series of tragic events affecting a stage full of likable and vulnerable young people. What "West Side Story" still does well is show life spiraling out of control.
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