Show & Tell Review: West Side Story
Posted by Sarah- Show & Tell Reviewer
Transport the classic romance and tragedy of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York amidst the rag-tag gangs who clashed over rights to their territory, and you find West Side Story. The association is purposeful, the original creators intended for their story to emulate Shakespeare’s beloved classic.
Last night, West Side Story made its way to the Fox Cities P.A.C. and was warmly welcomed by an eager audience. The cast was superb, the costumes and set were first-class, and the music was outstanding. The Fox Cities was privileged to be presented with an updated version of the classic musical, revived onstage in 2009. This adaptation was Arthur Laurents’ (the author of the book for the original 1957 production) attempt at making the story more modern and authentic. To do so, choreography was slightly modified and more of the script has been translated into Spanish.
The story’s tension was felt as soon as the curtain rose. The story of two conflicting gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, whose rivalry was born not just from wanting control of the same streets, but from the ignorance and racism between Puerto Ricans and Americans in New York at that time, was portrayed swiftly and effectively. The Center’s audience was immediately pulled into the clash and responded with a full range of emotions as well as enthusiastic applause.
Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim’s original score is an absolute masterpiece. When it was first being produced Bernstein was told that West Side Story was an impossible project, that no one would be able to sing the complicated rhythms and wide ranging songs. Not only has that supposition been disproved time and again over the decades, but last night in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center the current cast of West Side Story demonstrated just how wrong those nay-sayers were. The difficult songs were played and sung masterfully, making it appear to an unsuspecting audience as if this musical’s score were easy and not the truth behind it: that they were performing musical acrobatics.( Read more... )