Posts Tagged www.citylights.org

“The West Side Story” – Play Review


Inspired by “Romeo and Juliet”, in “The West Side Story”, based on the book by Arthur Laurents, with Stephen Sondheim’s compelling lyrics, and Leonard Bernstein’s music, Shakespeare’s timeless tragic tale is transformed into a war between the members of two rival gangs, in New York.  

At City Lights, the drama unfolds in an intimate setting, with Ron Gasparinetti’s simple simple set design, under the brilliant direction by Lisa Mallette, and does not lose any of its flair.  Large cast of 26 members, deliver beautifully.  The casting is superb.  

The tale of turf war starts as the Jets, an older gang of primarily Italian, Irish, Polish youngsters feel challenged by the newer Puerto Rican immigrants, the Sharks.  When Tony (Max Jennings), a Jet, and Maria (Katherine Dela Cruz), sister of a Puerto Rican Shark, fall in love, the tensions between the two rival gangs escalate dramatically, resulting in a series of violent events and ultimately leading to irreversible heart-breaking tragedy.  Dela Cruz’s operatic delivery of all her pieces is most impressive, and tugs at the heart strings.  Danielle Mendoza, as Anita, Maria’s girl friend, Sean Okuniewicz (Action), leader of the Jets, and Nick Rodrigues (Bernardo), Maria’s brother and leader of the Sharks, are also fantastic.  

Tony and Maria’s intermittent romance, amid atmosphere of inexplicable bitterness and hate, is endearing and also saddening, in the light of the tragic events that are to follow.  Sometimes, it seems that the presence of caring adults, with compassion, and wisdom that only comes with years, could make a difference, and bring a dose of reality to young people, who may be on the verge of losing their footing.  Unfortunately, in “The West Side Story”, the adults fall short. The candy store owner, Doc (George S. Gemette) cares deeply, but is powerless, and throws his hands up in the air in frustration, as he says, “you kids make this world lousy; when will you stop?”  Officer Krupke (Howard L. Miller), on the other hand, is the wrong face of the law enforcement, representing the type of attitude that was all too common, but one that is rapidly changing.  Some telling lyrics below, sung by the Jets, represent their cynical take on the perspectives of those in the law enforcement.  Very insightful and infinitely saddening, these lyrics sung with rebelliousness, sarcasm, distrust, and contempt towards the law, and all who stand for it, indicate that sometimes these juveniles are acutely aware of how they have been written off as “no good”, by the law enforcement. 

Hey you
Who me, Officer Krupke?
Yeah you, gimme one good reason for not dragging
You down the station, ya punk?

Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, you gotta understand
It’s just our bringin’ upke that gets us out of hand
Our mothers all are junkies, our fathers all are drunks
Golly Moses, naturally we’re punks

Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset
We never had the love that every child oughta get
We ain’t no delinquents, we’re misunderstood
Deep down inside us there is good

Dear kindly Judge, Your Honor, my parents treat me rough
With all their marijuana, they won’t give me a puff
They didn’t wanna have me but somehow I was had
Leapin’ lizards, that’s why I’m so bad

Right, Officer Krupke, you’re really a square
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed
He’s psychologically disturbed

My daddy beats my mommy, my mommy clobbers me
My grandpa is a commie, my grandma pushes tea
My sister wears a mustache, my brother wears a dress
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess

Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood
Deep down inside him, he’s no good

The trouble is he’s lazy, the trouble is he drinks
The trouble is he’s crazy, the trouble is he stinks
The trouble is he’s growing, the trouble is he’s grown
Krupke, we’ve got troubles of our own

Like the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, “The West Side Story” has also rightfully acquired a place as a timeless classic, in the history of urban America.  City Lights has done a fabulous job in bringing this heart rending saga of love and tragedy; in this massive production, with a huge cast, on stage.  Seats are available only for a few of the remaining shows.  Book your tickets at www.citylights.org .   

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2014 – Year-end Review ——- Theme: Confront Reality & Get Things Done!


English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: resear...

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: researcher is working with the Ebola virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 2014 is coming to a close.  As I see it, it has been a year to confront the reality and get things done.  Affordable Care Act became law in January, increasing the accessibility of healthcare, in the US.  TIME declared Ebola as the defining issue of the 20th century. It was no more in remote regions of Africa but in the capitals and it landed in the USA.  The reality is that we are living in a global world.  

And then President Obama reminded us that even though some of our neighbors entered the border illegally, they have made their home here, are working hard, supporting their families and they should have NOT amnesty, but an opportunity to make it right with the law, and live here temporarily, AND pay their share of the taxes, because people can’t live in the shadows, in a global world of visibility and accountability.   Long overdue immigration reform will enable many people to come out of the shadows and add to the national treasury – a win-win – what’s not to like?

The same applies to our gay neighbors.  They should not have to live in the shadows.  Majority of the states this year, legalized same sex marriages and US supreme court refused to hear appeals from states seeking to keep same sex marriage ban in place.  Many states also legalized marijuana.  But what about our veterans living in the shadows?  Department of Veterans Affairs got more resources (as house passed the bill, at the end of the year, averting shutdown), and it now has to get its act together and make it right with those who defend our freedom and values.

And what about skin color?  We are confronting the reality that more than 50 years after Dr. King laid out his vision for color-fair society, people are still being judged on the basis of the color of their skin and paying with their lives.  This does not just happen when young men turn 22 but prejudice hits in childhood  http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 and it splinters society.  We can heal and move ahead, but scars made by history, and distrust can only heal when there are no new wounds, when there is real dialog, when each side gets to even briefly experience the reality that the other lives with, and have compassion.  We are confronting the reality and lot of dialog is happening.  Much work remains to be done but the issue can’t be ignored any longer.

And then the lowest of the low, terrorists and those plotting terror.  How do we deal with them?  Report on CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era reveals that “CIA detainees were tortured”.  When we lose sight of our values, when the boundaries between moral and immoral gets blurry, then we lose, regardless of what we were seeking to gain.  This is a true moment for national soul searching. (the fact some people may be only suspected of being terrorists is whole other story).

Globally, also we are confronting realities.  World’s largest democracy, India, elected controversial Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.  Mr. Modi has reached out to leaders across the world and declared campaigns to clean up India.  My birthplace has so much to offer to the world and if it cleans up its act, under the helm of Mr. Modi, I couldn’t be happier.  Our neighbors need to clean up their act too, even as they rightfully blame the US for its insatiable appetite for drugs.  Capture of “El Chapo” Guzman in Mexico was a HUGE victory that got overshadowed later by disappearance and ruthless murder of 43 Mexican college students.  “#YaMeCanse12”!  Abduction of 270 high school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls and scores of Yazidi women bought, sold, raped, and murdered, underscores the need to define rape during conflict as a war crime and not a woman’s issue.  By some estimates, more than 7 million (50% are children) are displaced by war in Syria (200,000 are killed) and 100,000+ Yazidis are displaced by ISIS.  Let us continue to keep theses issues in the spotlight.

The year is ending on a rather sad note of the children who lost their lives in #PeshawarSchoolAttack in Pakistan.  Here is my short poem in their memory – http://bit.ly/1wfp47D .  It was heart warming to see India support its neighbor in the hour of grief as #IndiawithPakistan was a popular hashtag on twitter. And also deeply heartwarming to see Pakistan echo the sentiments when #PakistanwithIndia and sepecially #PakistanwithIndiaNoToLakhviBail became trendy topics on twitter as overwhelmingly Pakistani people reacted negatively to their government’s decision to give bail to Mumbai terror mastermind Lakhvi.  May the balanced sentiments always prevail over extremism, because the reality is that we live in a global world and terror can’t be nurtured and targeted because sooner or later it would hit home.  Global world also demands secularism.

As a ray of light and hope, Malala Yousafzai, courageous young lady from Pakistan, spearheading girls’ right to education and Kailash Satyarthi from india, a brave and dedicated activist for children’s rights and against child labor, shared the Nobel Prize, sending strong messages that fight to honor children’s rights will continue.

Personal

wpid-20140920_173123.jpgHard as it is to confront the reality that one’s parents may not be there forever, I was very happy to spend wonderful time with my mother and my aunty (her sister).  I tried to focus on giving them a break from their routines and enable them to have some fun, some unusual experiences.  Isn’t it amazing that when a mother gives, she gives with her heart and soul, but when she receives from her children, she receives with a feeling of enormous debt and gratitude!  Both my children are focused on their careers; wpid-20140805_201145-1.jpgNeil is working with Cisco in IT and Neesha is finishing college this coming year.  Both are my pride and joy :).  It has also been fun hosting my daughter’s friend from UCSD, originally from Palestine, during the holidays, and alternately being “naughty” with the girls, and playing aunty-mom to two daughters :).wpid-20141221_150415.jpg

wpid-20141221_161442.jpgThis year, I also visited Japan (we were hosted by many amazing friends and you can see all details in my travel blogs), an amazingly polite and most efficient culture, with world’s most interesting toilets http://bit.ly/1sYL5qs.  This year I also started travel blogs and you can see my many blogs at www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com.

And finally, here are links to some of the most amazing things that I blogged about, this year.
Best movie – “Last Days in Vietnam” http://bit.ly/1qFIL28
Best play – “Truce” http://bit.ly/1trGhEG and “Andhera Hone Tak” http://bit.ly/1Aij5Rz
Best book – “The Glass Castle” http://bit.ly/1fchcIo
Best biomedical technologies — so many exciting technologies in early to mid stages of development for — treatment of ALS http://bit.ly/1AP2Yd0, for technology for early detection of cervical cancer http://bit.ly/1jalqEz, technology that aims to deliver drugs via inhalation for AFib, point of care solution to minimize prescription filling errors http://bit.ly/1jdfmgr

Wishing my readers, family & friends, and my clients and colleagues, peace and joy in the year 2015.  Best wishes to my many friends in fantastic groups that I am routinely affiliated with (each of them enhance life for many, personally and/or professionally) http://www.bio2devicegroup.org, http://www.eppicglobal.org, http://www.citylights.org, http://www.thestage.org, http://www.theatreworks.org, http://www.naatak.org, http://www.enacte.org, http://www.iwings.org .

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