Jump to content

West Side Story, London, August 2013


Recommended Posts

I should be seeing this production later in the month, my first time with a stage version.  However, I can still recall emerging from the film version back around 1961, in my long-ago active jazz and blues guitar playing days, long before I had any awareness of Prokofiev, Cranko or MacMillan, and thinking "That was something different!"  It would be good to have a taste of something like that once again.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian, we were lucky to see the original London production in its first week, I think we were in the second row. The drama and intensity of the music, dancing and action were so strong that we shook for about three hours afterwards. and photographing the four extracts brought it all back.  Great show.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

We saw this yesterday evening.

 

I've never seen the film or a live production before - in fact the only thing I knew about West Side Story is that it was loosely based on Romeo and Juliet.

 

It was a powerful production, much darker in tone than I expected.  The Robbins choreography was fabulous.  I was very moved by the ending and cried my eyes out!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ive seen the film about half a dozen times now but not recently and cried every time at the end!!

 

If you can Janet do try and see the film too....it is still one of my favourite films of all time (along with Dr. Zhivago) and still stands up today....I definitely remember dancing down the street afterwards with my mum!!

 

In fact because this film is so imprinted its hard to imagine others in the roles but will definitely try to see this production at Sadlers Wells before it finishes!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The amazing thing is that it doesn't age! Sadly it may be because there's still so much ethnic rivalry in the world that its theme remains relevant. However, apart from that the music is ageless and glorious - every song a gem and the orchestral interludes are incredibly powerful. That opening sequence with the whistling - WOW!!!!!! I mean with Jerome Robbins' choreography and Leonard Bernstein's music - what more can you ask for? I think I'll go and watch the DVD again.........

Edited by Dance*is*life
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian, we were lucky to see the original London production in its first week, I think we were in the second row. The drama and intensity of the music, dancing and action were so strong that we shook for about three hours afterwards. and photographing the four extracts brought it all back.  Great show.

I too saw it within the first month of it's opening in London - on New Year's Eve to be exact - and to this day can still recall the emotional impact it had on me. Not only the impact of the music and dancing,but the dramatic climax which had me reeling and tearful. I had to walk several times round the comparative quiet of St James's Square behind Her Majesty's Theatre until I was able to compose myself sufficiently to face getting on a bus to go home. The next morning I was back at the theatre to book to see it again. Now I'm looking forward to Friday and reaquainting myself with this masterpiece ot total theatre.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I too saw it within the first month of it's opening in London - on New Year's Eve to be exact - and to this day can still recall the emotional impact it had on me. Not only the impact of the music and dancing,but the dramatic climax which had me reeling and tearful. I had to walk several times round the comparative quiet of St James's Square behind Her Majesty's Theatre until I was able to compose myself sufficiently to face getting on a bus to go home. The next morning I was back at the theatre to book to see it again. Now I'm looking forward to Friday and reaquainting myself with this masterpiece ot total theatre.

Mijosh, you may be interested in this link from today's BBC Online. Rita Moreno is now 81, and looks 61!! She is amazing, and here talks about her life and how playing Anita in the film of WSS changed her life. What a talent....did all of her own singing and dancing. It is one of my favourite films too...and it still makes me weep each time I see it!!

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23761990

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Sim, but for me Rita Moreno will always be the hilarious Googie Gomez in "The Ritz", and NOT Chita Rivera, who was considered "too old" for the movie version,but on stage in 1959 was electrifying and incomparable.

Edited by mijosh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a couple of clips of Chita (who incidentally is only 1 year younger than Moreno) on youtube. One of her dancing part of "America" (but not as in the show) at the age of 55,and another when she was 72.

I had the pleasure of meeting her briefly once when we were both visiting a mutual friend in a New York hospital and we exchanged chat across his sick bed. As I was leaving,Liza Minnelli arrived. And that is my name-dropping quota for the day. :-)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I don't get it Michael....if Chita is a year younger than Rita, why was she too old for the film but Rita wasn't?? Where's the logic in that? I'm confused!

 

Wow what a life you've had! A friend of mine went to visit Stephen Sondheim in NY to discuss some theatre business, and Liza was there at the same time, so he spent the afternoon and evening with her. His descriptions of the day are hilarious!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I caught last Saturday night's performance at Sadler's Wells.  As I mentioned earlier, this was to be my first viewing of a stage performance and, probably unfairly, I found it less compelling than the film which made such an impression some 50 years ago - the stage is necessarily more restrictive and the numbers of dancers involved seemed fewer than I recall.  Nonetheless, it proved an excellent night out and I found Penelope Armstead-Williams' Anita to be the strongest of the main roles.  And I suspect that my emotional reaction to the conclusion has been tempered by balletic Romeo and Juliets, particularly MacMillan's, and this seemed all over too quickly.  (And at times I was back in Bern with Cathy Marston's Julia und Romeo, where the staging was suggestive of those New York balconies.)  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw the Sunday matinee and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I agree with Ian that Penelope Armstead-Williams was superb as Anita - when she broke down during "A Boy Like That" the grief was truly palpable. I thought there was some great dancing, particularly in the opening sequence and gym scene - Robbins' choreo just bursts with energy at all the right places. A couple of dancers stood out for me as really letting the choreography flow and abandoning themselves into it - the guy playing Snowboy and Rosalia (the antagonist in America) in particular (I think they danced together in Somewhere too). 

 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed myself - and was reminded me that Bernstein, Sondheim and Robbins are truly geniuses and masters of their crafts!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw saturday night's performance and was truly thrilled by the quality of the whole production! The entire cast brought the 1957 choreography production alive. Flowy, punchy, eye-catching! The dancing was up there as well as the very difficult singing.

Being a fan of the 1961 film version and of the orginal Jerome Robbins choreography, I really enjoyed my first "Broadway" experience of West Side Story.

Jessica Soza (Maria) and Anthony Festa (Tony) duets were incredible, and I liked Penelope Armstead-Williams as Anita and Pepe Munoz as Bernardo.

Dance wise, I thought Mark MacKillop (Riff) and Luke Hawkins (Action) were superb. Great acting aswell.

The gang choreographies under the direction of McKneely have the energy and the oomph required for the job.

From the top of my head, the comic scene with the cop hat, "crazy boys" were powerful.

The PR girls were also great.

 

It was great to have the orchestra too. Leonard Bernstein would have been proud :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went last Tuesday evening. I've only been to Sadler's Wells once before - several years ago now.

 

On the whole, I enjoyed the show.

 

Negative thoughts:-

There were definitely some members of the cast who were "dancers who can sing a bit" which was a shame

Seemed to me that there were a few occasions where the cast were standing around on stage waiting for something to happen

Orchestral brass was weak - shame the reduced orchestration is being used.

 

Plus points:-

I thought the dancing throughout was very good (not that I know what I'm looking at but anyway...)

Timing in "Officer Krupke" was superb

 

Overall a very strong ensemble performance.

 

Final note - there were quite a few gasps in the audience at the end of each half (stabbing/gun shot) - I'm amazed that anyone in the audience didn't already know the story!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...