|Zoe Nadal, left, plays Maria and Will Skrip, right, is Tony in "West Side Story," playing through April 24 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Boulevard, Aurora. Photo credit: Liz Lauren.|
By ERIC SCHELKOPF
On the heels of a sparkling version of "Hairspray," the Paramount Theatre has followed that up with an equally strong production of the iconic musical "West Side Story."
That the production is directed by Paramount Theatre artistic director Jim Corti, who recently received a Jeff Award for his direction of "Les Miserables, is not surprising. The Jeff Awards celebrate the vitality of Chicago area theatre.
Just like he did with "Les Miserables," Corti has injected freshness and excitement into a production that has been long in the public eye. Of course, that starts with the cast, and kudos to Corti for assembling such a strong cast, 23 of them who are gracing Paramount's stage for the first time.
Leading the cast are Zoe Nadal and Will Skrip, the star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony. Skrip was previously on the Paramount stage in "Mary Poppins," while Nadal is new to the Paramount stage.
Nadal and Skrip are a joy to watch. The chemistry between them is real, and they draw the audience into their world from their very first scene together.
Mary Antonini - also a newcomer to the Paramount stage - also delivers a show-stopping performance as Anita. Antonini's feisty performance is another highlight of the production, and her vocal power delivers on all counts.
And the themes of the musical - which include the importance of being able to accept differences in others - are as relevant as today's headlines.
Stunning choreography and scenery along with an exhilarating performance by the Paramount Orchestra add to making the Paramount's production of "West Side" story a thrilling experience.
"West Side Story" will run through Sunday, April 24. Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.
Tickets are available by calling the Paramount at 630-896-6666 or visiting its website, www.paramountaurora.com.