West Side Story
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents
Thingamajig Theatre Company, 2018
Director: Melissa Firlit
Choreographer: Pia Wyatt
Music Director: Boni McIntyre
Set Designer: Matthew D. McCarren
Costume Designer: Adrienne Young
Sound Designer: Hannah Shutt
Prod. Stage Manager: Samantha Rohr
Photography by Elaine Wong.
The Bernstein/Sondheim musical brings Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet into modern day New York City, where two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, clash over territory and resentment. Though Maria and Tony find love across forbidden racial divides, it is not enough to overcome the ignorance and fear that society presses down upon them. While the classic musical was first created more than 60 years ago, its message is still as relevant today as it ever was, as we inhabit an American political climate rife with racial tension and a systemic neglect of the American territory of Puerto Rico.
The biggest challenge in executing the lighting design for this production was the staging -- how does one light a ballet performed in an alley-style stage, with no place to put low side lighting? This production relied on opposing colours to help emphasize the three-dimensionality of the human form, as well as to help showcase time of day -- the heat of setting sun, or the hushed mood of the late-night city streets.