Mar. 20th, 2009

March 20, 2009
THEATER REVIEW | 'WEST SIDE STORY'
Our Gangs
By BEN BRANTLEY

Even when they’re flashing switchblades and kicking people in the ribs, the teenage hoodlums who maraud through Arthur Laurents’s startlingly sweet new revival of “West Side Story” seem like really nice kids. When a pure-voiced boy soprano (Nicholas Barasch) shows up to perform the musical’s banner anthem, the aching “Somewhere,” it feels like the manifestation of some inner angel who always lurks beneath the surface of the angry adolescents onstage.

Youth has always been the engine of this epochal musical from 1957, created by one of the most talented teams in showbiz history: Mr. Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (score), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Jerome Robbins (director and choreographer). But usually it’s the scary, adrenaline-stoked energy of youth that sets the tone and rhythms of the show.

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