Real Cool Young Talent in “West Side Story” at Lake Worth Playhouse

Lake Worth Playhouse, a staple in the community of Palm Beach County, located in downtown Lake Worth, began its 2023-2024 season this past week with a rendition of “West Side Story,” the classic musical retelling of Romeo and Juliet. In the musical, the story takes place in a slum of New York where two rival gangs are warring over dwindling territory, but there are racial implications in this aggression, as well. The youth actors and actresses that made up the ensemble and cast brought their characters to life in a way that made this production feel different, special in a unique way that only local theater can give you.

To begin, if you haven’t gotten a chance to make it to Lake Worth Playhouse and seen a show, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The structure has stood for most of the 20th century, and it’s holding its ground as we near the quarter mark of the 21st. But what’s captivating about it are the ornate decorations of wood inside the mainstage room. It feels rustic and old, but loved. Additionally, they’re raising money to preserve it. The stage had depth and the room was sold out on opening night, Friday July 14.

Photo Credit: Bad Hair Day Photography

Now, the show. “West Side Story” is one of those. Meaning, it is canonical in theater no matter what road you go down, so every revival stands to be just that, or something one can remember. Lake Worth Playhouse brought a production to fruition that one can remember, and I believe that is largely in part due to the talent of the cast they featured. During the opening of the musical, when there is not much talking or singing at first, the Jets showcased their choreography and athleticism crucial to the roles. I was rather impressed by Action (Danny Distasio).

This production didn’t take any liberties in changing the story or anything that drastic, but again, the performances are what make this shine. All around, Billy Hannam’s portrayal of Riff left me almost uneasy by the end of the play; he was the best in the performance, but also the character (Riff) I should not be rooting for. Congratulations to Hannam for killing it. Also, Dillon Cavanagh delivered a chilling monologue at the end as he screams and pleads for Chino to kill him. Cavanagh made my hair stand up. Most impressive may be Luiza Marcil’s acting and singing of Maria. Brava.

Photo Credit: Bad Hair Day Photography

Lake Worth Playhouse’s “West Side Story” is currently on through Sunday, July 30. It’s a show you don’t want to miss, especially if you’ve never been inside the Playhouse. You can purchase your tickets here ( Their next production, beginning October 26, will be “Rent.”

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