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REVIEW: West Side Story is not to be missed

Just Regional
Sep 3, 2014 3 mins read

West Side Story is a testament to the fact that complicated plots aren’t always necessary in achieving successful entertainment, proof being that this show has survived the vagaries of time and trends, despite its simple and somewhat predicted plot. A big name musical that can bare its shoulders with the rest it needs little introduction.

The Theatre Royal, Norwich is a starring host to the many stars of this enjoyable, simple to understand show of an undemanding love story and its battles to survive the opposition two New York City rival gangs force upon it. Like the Shakespeare story of Romeo and Juliet it is loosely compared with, it is just as ill fated.

The Romeo and Juliet tale of old has survived because of its renowned words, West Side Story, I believe, continues to thrill because of the complementary music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Songs such as Maria, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty, America and Tonight remain as classic today as at their inception.

This production is a winner for everyone, the Theatre Royal, cast, orchestra and most of all the receptive audience. It fulfilled all that is required and expected from a night out at a theatre, arresting music, dancing to be thrilled by, and acting to believe in and not to mention comfortable seats!

It is always a delight and a treat for me to be able to enjoy a live orchestra and this one didn’t disappoint. I found the violins and in particular the solo violinist very moving and was pleased at the deserved and appreciative applause the conductor, Donald Chan received.

Lead man, Tony, played by Dominic Hodson was the singing voice to be heard, tantalysing expressive, potent and above all melodically pleasing he is a name to remember.

Lead woman, Maria, played by Katie Hall had a clear singing voice that floated on air. I wasn’t convinced by the sincerity of her acting however, until the last scene when she proved her mettle and settled into her role, obviously relinquishing first night nerves.

There couldn’t have been any more exciting dancers than the men of the gangs of the Jets and Sharks. Masculine grit, aggression, strength and sheer power packed a powerful punch throughout the show. Without them, this show would have been much blander and they were certainly the highlight for me.

Superb acting came from Djalenga Scott as Anita. She became the Puerto Rican girl she played, wholeheartedly, with vigour and intensity and never dropped her portrayal once.

Drops of welcomed humour was ably provided by Sion Tudor Owen as Officer Krupke/Glad Hand and Doc, played by Tony Stansfield,showed an ability to convey alternate emotions.

Chino (Niko Wirachman) demanded attention and Bernardo (Javier Cid), Riff (Jack Wilcox) were not to be ignored either, with their dominating raw aggression.

This show is not a simpering, sugar sweet concoction but rather a potion made from the dark violent side of youth. The whole cast portrayed this with professional ability, exceptional vitality and an unfeigned desire to please its audience.

I was glad I didn’t miss this show and those who attended its first night probably felt the same too, it is genuinely not one to be missed.

ARLENE TODD

 

Dominic Hodson as Tony and Katie Hall as Maria. PICTURE: SG Haywood Photography

Dominic Hodson as Tony and Katie Hall as Maria.
PICTURE: SG Haywood Photography

PICTURE: Alastair Muir

PICTURE: Alastair Muir

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