The Jakarta Post
A scene from the musical West Side Story shows Maria weeping. (Jakarta Performing Arts Community/File)
West Side Story was a giant leap for the Jakarta Performing Arts Community (JPAC). As the first licensed performance for the amateur community theater, JPAC went the extra mile to make the performance happen. Though there is still room for improvement, JPAC proved that they are on the right track.
The musical, created by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is set in Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, the United States. A gang war happens between the white “Jets” and Puerto Rican immigrants “Sharks” over territory in their neighborhood.
In anger, Jets’ leader Riff (Nicholas Bunjamin) looks for a former member Tony (Emir Aditya), requesting support. Riff wants Tony to join the gang in the dance. Tony comes to the dance reluctantly, until he sets eyes on a Puerto Rican girl Maria (Chezia Aviola).
The lovebirds plan to run away, but the situation heats up. Tony tries to stop the gangs’ feud, but things do not go as planned.
Held in Graha Bakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta, the show had a bumpy ride in the beginning. The technical issues in the microphones made the dialogues and songs unclear. Fortunately, it got better toward the end of Act 1.
Emir and Chezia's duet slowly drew in the audience. Chezia was, perhaps, the best part of the show. Her acting and beautiful voice stole the audiences’ attention.
In addition to Chezia’s performance, the dance choreography deserves credit, too. Choreographer Elhaq Latief managed to keep the iconic West Side Story dance moves, which were executed beautifully. The Puerto Rican female dancing scenes were a real treat for the audience.
For an amateur community theater, the show proved to be entertaining. The performers have talent that can be improved upon with more training. All they need is extra support from musical enthusiasts. (asw)