Local performing arts nonprofit The Adderley School did multiple performances of the classic musical “West Side Story” on May 31 and June 1. They took place at the St. Andrew’s Dell Fine Arts Center in Austin. We attended the final show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.
There was plenty of excitement in the air, as families, friends and fans all geared up for the show and found their seats in the mid-size theater. The performance started promptly at 8 p.m., and Janet Adderley herself announced just beforehand that there would be a single intermission.
There were 21 named characters (with one performer playing dual roles of Officer Krupke and Doc), as well as six children in the girls ensemble and three in the boys ensemble. This “West Side Story” cast seemed to range in age from 7 to 17.
The play, which does double duty as an updated take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and a commentary on immigration and race relations, features a number of classic songs, all performed expertly by The Adderley School’s students. Among the vocal highlights were “Maria,” “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty.” Impressive choreography and dancing were featured during “Dance at the Gym,” “The Rumble” and “Gee, Officer Krupke.” The orchestra performed well too, led by conductor Akina Adderley.
The strongest vocal performances came from leads Gus Greene and Bridgette Peterson, who played Tony and Maria, respectively. Kate Denning also had a notably strong performance as Anita. And there was no denying the adorable talent of what appeared to be the youngest cast member, Evan Turnley, as Baby John.
One of the show’s highlights was the surprise appearance of young actor (and Adderley alum) Jack Dylan Grazer at the emcee at the dance. He appeared onstage briefly in a red plaid suit and the audience went wild.
Following the show, Grazer came onstage again to present an Adderley Conservatory Scholarship to one boy and one girl in his name. He’s a natural in front of an audience, speaking with confidence and humor.
And then came something completely unexpected: They announced they were auctioning off the jacket that Grazer wore to the premiere of “It” in 2017. The bidding started at $500, and it quickly became clear that it was a bidding war between two members of the audience. The price got all the way up to $1,500 before it sold. That money will go toward the nonprofit, paying for more than one child to attend the program.
All in all, it was a fun night out, and an impressive show of talent from The Adderley School’s students.
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Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.