City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

West Side Story, EFT, May 2009, Review 2


By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 06 May 2009

4
Show Details
Company: 
Ambassodor Theatre Group
Production: 
Joey McKneely (Director/Choreographer), Donald Chan (Musical Supervisor), Simon Beck (conductor)
Performers: 
Daniel Koek (Tony), Sofia Escobar (Maria), Jayde Westaby (Anita), Howard Jones (Riff), Dan Burton (Barnardo), and Members of the Cast
Running time: 
165mins

Magnificent music takes centre stage in this 50th anniversary production of the classic musical West Side Story - a wonderful night at the theatre for the orchestra's delivery of Bernstein's score alone. The conductor is rightly on stage at the end taking a bow alongside this predominantly young cast. A member of the audience leaving the Festival Theatre shouted over to a friend "Does it still stand up?" - a rhetorical question in my view as this production is not dated at all and deals with issues that are relevant to day - disaffected young people forming into gangs to protect territory, the police tending to side with the indigenous population against immigrants, arranged marriages and knife and gun crime.

Set in New York, this show is an amazing collaboration of men with outstanding talent. The book by Laurents based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet', the choreography of Robbins, the lyrics by Sondheim and that music by Bernstein.

Compared with the film version, this production got off to a slightly low key start with the opening scenes between the Jets and the Sharks lacking the menace associated with real gangs that could have been built into the ebb and flow of their confrontations.

Tony has grown away from the Jets and looking to the future without entirely letting go. His eye catches Maria who has just arrived in New York from Puerto Rica at a dance.  The scene at the school gymn is a vibrant example of the combination of music and dance telling the story.

The coltish Maria excels in every scene that she appears in and is at her best in the ‘I feel pretty' scene. In ‘A boy like that' dueting with the excellent Anita their contrasting voices and melodies represent their opposing views.

At the interval there was a feeling that this was a good show without scaling the heights, but the intensity of the second half, only relieved by the comic number ‘Gee, Officer Krupke built and built to the climax when you could hear the proverbial pin drop.

The ill-fated pair. Tony and Maria were well matched in terms of their vocal ability but visually did not quite look a couple. The choreography, particularly the heaven scene, was excellent.

The singing and acting alongside great lighting and a realistic set all added up to a great show but the music and its delivery made it an evening to remember.

Show times

Tuesday 5th - Saturday 16th May

7.30pm

Matinees - Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm

Read Barbara Bryan's review of West Side story