Few of those performances, however, come in the wake of a national tragedy as the recent Orlando shooting.
Columbus Children's Theatre always has a "why" for telling its stories, and this particular production's was "prejudice and violence are not the answer."
Before the start of the performance, an insert from the program was read expressing the company's desire to show how important it is for humankind to unite as one and show kindness to one another, especially in times of tragedy.
The Jets and Sharks serve as a symbol of the terrible ways people treat others different from themselves, and Tony and Maria's relationship across rival lines is a beacon of hope that even polar opposites can get along, or even love each other.
The cast was made up of CCT Summer Pre-Professional company ages 16-22, but showed professionalism and ability to adapt beyond their years with a few minor prop and costume malfunctions. Hey, it's opening night. You'll have that.
Choreographer Nicolette Montana made great use of the space available with the small stage size, mostly adhering to the original choreography that fans of the musical would recognize. I was impressed with the actors' strength in dancing and connection with their respective partners, as many of them are actors or singers first and dancers second.
The live music accompaniment also made use of the little space they had. In a space that size, I might expect them to use a pre-recorded track, but the four-piece band made a surprisingly full sound.
The downfall of this, however, is that the live music often drowned out the delicate voices of the cast members, who were not mic-ed.
Andy Simmons and Elizabeth Blanquera were certainly chosen for the roles of Tony and Maria due to the strength and harmony of their singing voices. Blanquera portrayed Maria's sweetness and innocence beautifully while Simmons channeled the quiet confidence of Tony.
A stand-out performance was made by Odette Gutierrez del Arroyo, who played Anita. She showed confidence, especially in the more dramatic scenes, and had the strongest projection of the cast.
The Jets got the biggest response from the crowd in their comedic number, "Gee, Officer Krumpke."
An especially powerful moment came near the end of the musical, when William Gorgos appeared on the balcony and sang "There's a place for us". The cast, all clothed in white, united in dreamy lyrical choreography behind him. It was a display of unison between the two groups, a divide that the plot up until that point worked to firmly establish.
In the final scene, Maria looked to the American flag, leading me to reflect on the state of the country that the character and her family worked so hard to become a part of.
Through West Side Story, CCT will show children and adults alike that it's not about what makes us different, it's about what we all have in common.
West Side Story is set to be presented Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at Park Street Theatre, 512 Park St from June 29- July 17. There will be no shows on July 1st and 3rd. Standard admission is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and children. For more information, visit columbuschildrenstheatre.org.
by Hannah Herner