On a cold and wet Thursday night I traipsed over to Central Hall to see the opening night of West Side Story, with the hope that the musical would live up to my expectations. Luckily, the cynic in me was pleasantly surprised.
From the opening act, which illustrated the intense rivalry between the two warring neighbourhood gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, West Side Story convincingly took the audience back to life in the backstreets of 1950s New York.
From wise-cracking Riff (Oliver Regan) to hapless Officer Krupke (Chris Rowett), both major and minor characters displayed enthusiasm and flair in performing their roles. The cast lit up the stage, lending a fierce intensity to the fight scenes, and at the same time managing to soften the tone for the romantic moments between Tony (Tom Rogers) and Maria (Miranda De Silva).
The singing was also excellent, with ‘Maria’ and ‘America’ deserving special mentions for showcasing several voices with exceptional vocal range. Minor flaws, such as certain actors occasionally lapsing into an English accent and the dance sequences not being quite synchronised, did not detract from the overall superb performance.
Gripping and energetic, ‘West Side Story’ is something that promises to liven up an otherwise boring night, even for cynics like me.