by Julie Wallis twitter.com/Nicenic63
Stage Experience 2017 – West Side Story
The classic musical West Side Story is at the New Alexandra Theatre all this week and it is terrific!
The story is a tragic love story loosely based on Romeo and Juliet. Two rival gangs, the white American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks both trying to establish their dominance of the city streets in the upper west side of New York, but when the Sharks leader Bernardo (Javier Aguilera) finds his sister Maria has fallen in love with rival gang member Tony, and they both plan to run away together the outcome can be nothing but tragic.
Filled with a plethora of fantastic songs, written by Leonard Bernstein including; I Feel Pretty, Maria, Gee Officer Krupke and of course the famous America, you’re bound to find your toes tapping. Without the wonderful showtunes West Side Story would be a pretty grim experience, but the songs really lift the atmosphere for this beautiful show.
Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the fabulous production at the New Alex and it is a genuine belter of an experience. Performed by a young theatre group from Stage Experience, Maria – Grace Whyte has a breathtaking voice of such crystal clarity it’s hard to remember just how young she is, but she is perfectly cast as the sweet young Maria and singing alongside Tony – Elliot Gooch who also has a superb singing voice. This pair stormed the stage.
The show starts with both gangs, either side of a wire fence giving each other the eye and it’s straight into big dance and fight numbers. The back streets of New York’s west side are right in front of you as watch skirmishes unfold. This story is famously inspired by Romeo and Juliet, so there are a number of balcony scenes.
It is an absolutely huge ensemble, and if I took time to name check everyone who had impressed me I’m afraid you’d be reading this all day. West Side Story has very little spoken dialogue, and obviously when the Puerto Rican’s do talk they all do it with a convincing Hispanic accent. But I will say officer Krupke – Todd Dougan, the policeman who is desperately trying to keep the mean streets of the upper west side safe and decent, is a welcomed bit of light relief and his New York accent falls just the right side of light-hearted comedy.
After the wonderful acting, and singing; West Side Story is almost ballet like in its choreography and I must say the big scenes. Dance scenes or fight scenes do look so much better for having a lot of people involved on stage. There are some great moves from the ensemble. My personal favourite dance scene is when everyone is dressed in white and leaping in a very ballet like style. I’m not going to give any spoilers so that is all I’m going to say about that but Pollyann Tanner and Joshua Coley as choreographer and assistant choreographer have done some very impressive work. The kids and young adults from Stage Experience have truly delivered in a most enjoyable and entertaining way.
If you are a fan of the original 1961 film of the same name, this stage production does stay pretty true to the original and the dance in the gym has all the razzmatazz and tension of the original film. As I said, the huge cast really does help with the big scenes.
Once again many thanks to all the staff at New Alexandra Theatre for a wonderful event, and thanks to all the cast and crew of West Side Story for giving me another night to remember for all the right reasons.
Stage Experience 2017 – West Side Story runs until Saturday 26th August at New Alexandra Theatre and tickets are available here: atgtickets.com/shows/stage-experience-west-side-story/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham
Julie was invited to see Stage Experience 2017 – West Side Story for #BrumHour on behalf of the New Alexandra Theatre in exchange for a honest view. This isn’t a sponsored post.