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Those students left behind pull off dance production

I came home last weekend to see West Side Story, and I've got to say: good job, kids. Truth be told, I wasn't sure you could do it without us. But, somehow, you pulled it off. It was a terrific effort, really.

In all honesty, though, it's been four days and my theatrically-induced adrenaline rush is still surging. I haven't been this thrilled since...the last time DLMS hosted a production of West Side Story.

Since it's all I can think about, I feel that I have no choice but to write up my critique and subject you all to my rabid reviewing. If you saw the show, you'll undoubtedly echo my emphatic praises; if you didn't, hopefully you'll feel really, really guilty and pay your penitence by attending one-act, the spring play, Concordia's production of "Godspell" and every other show within a 50-mile radius for the next 12 years.

First of all, the dancing necessitates praise: I was absolutely awed, and not at all upset that I didn't have to sell my soul in exchange for the ability to pull off that choreography. "America," my favorite dancing-on-the-rooftop scene outside of Mary Poppins, was more fun than I've accumulated in the past three months (I do a lot of homework).

"Cool," a scene which I never particularly appreciated during any of my 70 viewings of the movie, was one of the most intense depictions of emotional control I have ever witnessed.

And costumes? Where can I get my own Jet's jacket?

Of course, by the show's end, my tear ducts were primed to begin producing as soon as Tony and Maria walked on stage together.

(I cried through the entire show 10 years ago, as well. Whether 9 or nearly 19, I am extremely susceptible to the emotive undercurrents of matching jackets and gunshots set off to a background of ballet moves. However, growing up makes everything messier, as does mascara.)

West Side Story, a beautiful and disastrous tale of perceived opposites -- love and hate, Americans and Puerto Ricans, kids and cops, dancing and murder (those last two, for some of us, are in fact one and the same) -- requires a cast consisting entirely of exceptionally talented people. Who else could tackle characters named Gee-Tar, Mouthpiece, Anxious and Moose?

Exactly. You've got to be good.

And you were, guys. Putting aside the fact that the stage was inhabited by a great many of my favorite people in the universe, I was blown away by the poignant portrayals.

Bryce epitomized Tony's hopeless romanticism; Ashley's dancing was delightful and her pitch flawless. I'm convinced that Anita was written for Cecilia, whose Latina impressions I've seen backstage in every show we've ever done together, and Steven makes me exponentially more proud with every role he enacts.

Emma had the most gloriously annoying New York accent I've heard; Bryan did his character's name (Action) justice while keeping me entirely too entertained. Tre somehow enraged me as the overly protective older brother, and still made me bawl in the rumble scene...until the stage lights blacked out and he stood up and I began to breathe again.

Jon was impressively dynamic, from acrobat to murderer in minutes. Alexa is my new favorite person thanks to her portrayal of the spunky just-one-of-the-guys chick, and I'd name everyone else in the show, too, if I could convince the newspaper to expand my column space to an entire section.

From Mrs. Larson's recorded welcome-to-the-show (impeccable articulation, Lars) to the curtain call, I was enthralled. Nothing could make me miss the musical more than watching the final show, simultaneously seeing the two months' worth of rehearsals they'd put in, and knowing how good it feels to do what they'd done. And nothing could make me more proud than to have acted with so many of them before.

Thanks for carrying on the traditions -- playing Spice Girls in the girls' dressing room, Queen in the boys', and The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the cast party -- and putting on the latest and greatest show Detroit Lakes has seen. You done good, kids.

In case missing the (literal) drama, just know that you're never done with the musical: opening week, around the same time the entire cast realized their all-encompassing time and energy commitment had rendered them ill, I was bedridden with a fever of 102.3.

Yep. You've been infected. But, I promise, it'll always be worth it.

Thressa Johnson attends Concordia College, Moorhead.