Tigard High School's Deb Fennell Auditorium, which plays host to The Broadway Rose Theatre Company each summer, is surprisingly suited for professional performances. 600 seats fill the auditorium and there's room for a full live orchestra.
West Side Story, the show on now, showcases impressive voices and well choreographed, if slightly unenergetic, dance numbers by Jacob Toth. Actors Austin Arizpe and Drew Shafranek deliver a calculated fight scene at the end of the first act, darting at one another and dodging the other's switchblade. And Maria's (Mia Pinero) breakdown at the end of the final act is heartbreaking, when she flails a revolver around at the crowd of other characters gathering around Tony's (Andrew Wade) dead body.
The strange thing about an otherwise great performance on the night I attended came after curtain call. As the actors took turns bowing, they all looked downtrodden and disappointed. The show ends in tragedy, but I have never seen a musical theater performance where the cast looked so somber at the end.
Regardless of the cast's feelings, Broadway Rose does a solid production that will please Broadway fans and surprise anyone who thinks that high school auditoriums are a lackluster venue.
See it: West Side Story is at Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 SW Durham Rd, Tigard, 503-620-5262, broadwayrose.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Saturdays and Sundays, July 1-24. $30-$50.