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Summer of Love

Tamalalia 7 and West Side Story offer different musical takes on a time-honored topic

There is something sweetly antiquated about the story. When Riff (Andy Blankenbuehler) and Bernardo (Alexander Quiroga), the gangs' leaders, square off to discuss the terms of their rumble, they talk about rocks and cans instead of handguns. Even switchblades don't seem so bad when held up against today's standards of automatics and Uzis. But this is a highly stylized environment where warlords come at the world in perfectly executed midair pirouettes. Their hands and feet may be flat and mannish as they bound through the streets of Manhattan, but their backs are straight and their chins held high.

TUTS has put together a terrific young cast that brings vitality to the stage. Especially strong and sexy are Blankenbuehler's Riff, Quiroga's Bernardo and Sterling's Anita. The familiar Jet songs such as "Cool" and "Gee, Officer Krupke" are reason enough to see the show.

Noel Bowers plays a crusty old Cupid out to help (or hurt?) Tamarie Cooper's love life in Tamalalia 7.
George Hixson
Noel Bowers plays a crusty old Cupid out to help (or hurt?) Tamarie Cooper's love life in Tamalalia 7.

Details

Tamalalia 7: The Love Show
8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through August 17. The Axiom, 2524 McKinney, 713-522-8443. $10-$15.

West Side Story
8:15 p.m. daily through July 27. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 713-284-8350. Free.

Most lovers of musicals have seen the film version at least once, but video can't capture the fiery power that has been so wonderfully realized in this production.

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