Written by Regina Toth
‘Could it be, yes it could, something’s comin’, something good.’
Leonard Bernstein’s legendary music and the beloved love story of Maria and Tony is revived at Leicester’s Curve Theatre this Christmas.
West Side Story, directed by Nikolai Foster (White Christmas, Scrooge the Musical, Grease) and choreographed by Ellen Kane (Groundhog Day, Matilda the Musical), is brilliant, vivid and captivating to watch.
Michael Taylor’s set designs provide a perfect backdrop to the iconic musical, a run-down New York neighbourhood where gangs are reigning, and a street fight is just an everyday occurrence. Moving wire-fences, a versatile apartment block and a pile of concrete and rubbish in the background, all creates the general feeling of poverty and lack of stability.
Performed with a live orchestra playing on stage, the remarkable and frankly, visionary music of Bernstein feels like it’s running in our veins as we sit in the audience. The experience is overwhelming and all-encompassing in the best way possible.
Never a moment of boredom – between the constant movement of the set, the quick-paced scenes and breath-taking choreography, audiences were on the edge of their seats to see what’s going to happen next in the rivalry between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the American-born Jets.
In between scenes about these young boys’ fight for territory, we see glimpses of familial scenes, the candyfloss pink daydreams of Maria (played by Adriana Ivelisse) and the worrying of her down to earth sister-in-law, Anita (Carly Mercedes Dyer). As well as, the precious relationship between Tony (Jamie Muscato) and the father figure in his life, who just wants some peace, Doc (Christopher Wright).
‘Someday, somewhere / We’ll find a new way of living…’
The nativity of young love – a well-known trope borrowed from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – is portrayed very clearly, Ivelisse and Muscato showcasing a heart-warming gentleness and affection to each other from their very first scene together. It is clear that Maria and Tony have something special, something that is misunderstood and cannot be fulfilled in their time.
The song ‘Somewhere’ performed by the entire cast – giving a nod to the two main characters’ first meeting – gave me goose bumps, the overload of feelings was undeniable and a real testament to the extraordinariness of this production.
In today’s heightened awareness of Brexit and critical arguments about immigrants and their place in British society, a musical about similar issues in the melting-pot of America set decades ago, is a very bold and thought-provoking choice from Curve.
Between light-hearted and fun numbers like the famous ‘I feel pretty’, ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ – the wittiness of which got a roaring applause from the whole audience – and the sassy ‘America’, we have emotional and deep songs such as ‘Maria’ or the tragic duet ‘A Boy Like That/ I Have a Love’. There is something for the taste and like of every theatregoer, and all are sure to feel touched by this amazing production.
West Side Story is playing at the Curve until the 18th of January, every day, Monday to Saturday. Make sure to book your tickets for an unforgettable experience, online on the Curve’s website: www.curveonline.co.uk, by calling the Box Office on 0116 242 3595 or by visiting the theatre in person.