ACT - West Side Story 2022In what starts out looking more like a dazzling dance production of West Side Story, director Chris Rabideau’s latest take on the timeless story of Tony and Maria makes a moody turn and becomes a swooning masterwork once the drama and emotions fly in the second half of the program. This heartfelt version of the 1957 musical, produced by Arts Collective Theatre, is on now at the Capitol Theatre with three remaining dates from Oct 21 to 23.

Inspired by the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story takes Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and places them in the vibrant battleground of New York City’s West Side in the 1950s. In the midst of the deep-seated rivalry between the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, and the white gang, the Jets, Maria and Tony discover that ancient grudges are no match for true love. Their warring factions, however, refuse to back down, and the “rumbles”, romance, and resentment lead the bloody path to the lovers’ ultimate, tragic conclusion.


This production is a lean and gritty production with alluring choreography that gives the show a raw energy and determined rage that the movie versions do not have. The street and rumble scenes are quite dark and lit as if the audience was sneaking a peek from a building window across the street. At one point a drop-down chain-link fence comes down and encompasses the entire stage from one side to the other, locking the cast into what looks like a urban playground. With a complex of industrial metal scaffolding as a backdrop, the stage is wide open for the killer choreography designed by Tiffany Chan, as mini-indoor sets are brought out for the more intimate scenes and songs.

It’s a beloved musical for it’s timeless songs like Maria, America, Tonight, I Feel Pretty and fun singalongs like Gee, Officer Krupke. I got to witness the effects of these songs firsthand when waiting to get to the men’s room, where I could hear a gentleman singing Maria in a soft and beautiful tone. This musical somehow brings out the best in everyone, despite its bittersweet story of love, grief and humanity.

It’s a hearty cast of 29 performers, 14 musicians and four additional pit singers. Gianluca Leraci showcases an incredible voice as Tony and Gina Marshall’s beautiful, euphonious voice makes us wonder who else would dare take on the role of Maria. The Jets and the Sharks are also fun to watch with all the big dance moves. The show looks and sounds its most impressive when the entire ensemble takes to the stage.

By the way, if the closing scene doesn’t bring a tear to your eye as the curtain drops, you’re not human. Rumours are this closing scene was a last minute addition to the show – and if that’s true, it’s a priceless addition, and the most triumphant closing West Side Story has ever had.

Audiences love this show and they equally love Arts Collective Theatre’s annual community productions. It’s an enduring work from an equally enchanting company and it’s one of the big must-see musicals of the Windsor theatre scene in 2022.

West Side Story continues for three more performances at the Capitol Theatre on Oct 21, 22 and 23. For more information or tickets, visit

ACT - West Side Story 2022

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