West Side Story

New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham


THIS outstanding musical returns to the Midlands with its dramatic tale of gang rivalry, knifing and racial tension in New York which is just as relevant in parts of Britain today.

A young and energetic cast deliver the message superbly, playing the Puerto Rican Sharks and the local Jets who frequently clash until a planned ‘rumble’ leads inevitably to death and despair. No happy ending here, but the lesson is worth taking on board

There was an unexpected drama on press night when one of the leads, Katie Hall, had to withdraw through a medical condition, but what a performance we saw from understudy Charlotte Baptie.

She took over the role of Maria with supreme confidence, delivering all the passion and emotion required in the big numbers as her dangerous love for Tony, one of her brother Bernardo’s rivals, sparked tragedy....closely following the narrative of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Louis Maskell is excellent as Tony, and there are outstanding performances, too, from Javier Cid (Bernardo) and Jack Wlcox, playing the Jets’ leader, Riff.

The show contains many great song, including Maria, Tonight, America, I Feel Pretty, and one of my favourites, the very humorous Gee, Officer Krupke.

The sets are particularly effective, with moveable skeletal apartments and balconies on both sides of the stage, and various skyscraper scenes of New York projected on the back.

Choreography by Jerome Robbins is stunning in a heart-stopping show that has been described as ‘the greatest musical of all time’. Don’t know about that, but it’s certainly in the top half dozen.

To 19.04.14 

Paul Marston


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