Thrilling and impressive dancing anchors “West Side Story” which kicks off the newly renamed Northampton Community College Bill Mutimer Memorial Summer Theater.

“West Side Story” continues through June 16 at the college’s Lipkin Theater, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township.

Mutimer, who was the producing artistic director and founder of the summer program, died March 6. In honor of Mutimer, this year's summer theater was officially designated with his name. He was also remembered before the show started.

“West Side Story” is an exuberant and heartfelt production that is elevated by the outstanding choreography by Christina Sohns Williams, that is energetically danced by the talented cast.

Numbers like “Jet Song,” the dances at the gym, “Cool” and “The Rumble” (as well as many other songs) are filled with exciting leaps, high kicks, jumping spins and percussive steps that bring to mind Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. It is all packed together neatly by director Darah Donaher.

Anthony Ghali and Maria Alvarez-Pallete are appealing and appropriately idealistic as the doomed couple Tony and Maria. They pour their hearts into songs like “Tonight,” “One Hand, One Heart” and Ghali’s “Maria.”

Alvarez-Pallete’s Maria is particularly cute and high-spirited in “I Feel Pretty” backed by a group of Sharks’ girls.

Isabella Ramirez gives a dynamic performance as Anita, the girlfriend of Maria’s brother Bernardo. She sizzles in “America” with Abby Arza as the naive Rosalia and the other Sharks’ girls. The number also includes superb dancing by the performers.

Ramirez also shines in the heart-rending “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” duet with Alvarez-Pallete’s Maria.

Yul Carrion and Calum Sullivan deliver strong performances as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks and Riff, the leader of the Jets. All the gang members contribute solidly to their scenes and are outstanding in their dancing. The Jets are played by Max Wetherhold, Harrison Fox, Ryan Apgar, John Greisen, Connor Sternberg and Dylan Penyak; and the Sharks are played by Mateo Villarreal, Joao Alexandre, Julio Hernandez, Adrian Colon-Burgos, Zayne Xavier Thomie, Dyran Robles and Sergio Salinas.

A highlight is the entertaining “Officer Krupke” in which the Jets led by a tightly-wound and intense Wetherhold as Action, mock the police officer played by Cade Kocher. Once again the dancing is top notch in this number.

Jim Long is memorable as one of the few “adults” - the no-nonsense, but caring Doc.

Brett Oliveira, who went on for Michael Sheridan opening night, is brash and frustrated as Lieutenant Shrank, who wants to "clean up" the streets.

A new addition to this production is a youth ensemble of fourth and fifth grade students who perform on “Somewhere” to emphasize the far-reaching effects of the conflict depicted in the show, and who are ultimately joined by the entire cast.

Oliveira, who also is set and lighting designer, has created a stripped down set that cleverly uses scaffolding to suggest the maze of inner-city fire escapes and balconies which the cast climbs up and down throughout the show.

Brenda Maguire’s costumes evoke the 1950s with fluffy dresses with crinolines for the girls and sneakers and jeans for the guys.
Backing the singers and dancers is an 18-piece orchestra complete with strings, woodwinds and horns, who are set up in the college's Lab Theatre and mic'd in to the sound system.

Tickets are $25 for adults; $15 for seniors and $10 for students.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. June 7-8, 12-15; and 2 p.m. June 9, and 16.

For information, call 484-484-3412, or go to