West Side Terri
FronteraFest Long Fringe
Reviewed by Robert Faires, Fri., Feb. 1, 2013
West Side TerriSalvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.
Final performance: Thursday, Jan. 31, 7:45pm
Running time: 1 hr., 15 min.
What was the movie you saw as a kid that seized your imagination, that opened the world to you, that you watched over and over and over again until you could spout every line and act every move, perfectly mimicking the actors onscreen? The Wizard of Oz? The Sound of Music? Star Wars? For Terri Mowrey, it was West Side Story – the story that made love at first sight beautifully, thrillingly real to her and the first time she saw people with brown skin take leading roles in a film. All it takes is for the first notes of the overture to come drifting through her apartment window and she's off: singing along, dancing along, acting each scene and playing all the characters, occasionally interrupting herself to toss out trivia about the film and its making, like the friendliest, funniest commentary track ever. Mowrey leaps into each part with the actor's relish of a great role, exaggerating the dated screen performances for comic effect (and slipping into the proceedings a hilariously anachronistic Keanu Reeves as Tony) – but if ever mockery were tinged with affection, it's here. We still see in the actress' sparkling eyes the child who was captivated by this musical. It changed her life then and is changing it even now, and her vivacious love letter is a testament to the power of movies to shape who we are.