1-12 July 2014
Reviewed by Janet Linsell
Reviewing one of the all-time, best loved musicals of a well-known story with an iconic score that most have already seen, at least in the film version, is a problem. In buying tickets you will have huge expectations but I will say at the outset that you will not be disappointed. This production was superb.
I attended with my young grandson who knew nothing of the story and for whom I had to briefly set the scene. He had no knowledge of Romeo and Juliet, the basis of the musical, a love story embedded in a long running and bitter family feud. The setting here is of two gangs, the white Jets and the immigrant Puerto Rican Sharks based in 1950s New York, their fierce, brutal, unthinking rivalry a mirror of so many other fictional and factual feuds. The romance of the lovers Tony and Maria is contrasted with this backdrop, which culminates in a ferocious battle resulting in the deaths of several gang members. Their attempts to leave this all behind, ends in tragedy.
I find it impossible to be critical of any aspect of this production. The musical accompaniment was excellent, the voices of the actors were outstanding. The characters Tony and Maria, played by Louis Maskell and Katie Hall have exceptional clarity and presence, although the whole cast were magnificent and it seems unfair to single out individuals. The lighting and the seemingly simple set added to the drama, with projections of New York scenes onto the three story backdrop providing a believable image of the tenement buildings. Now, running out of superlatives, the choreography was admirable, with excellent use of the stage by the dancers at a slick, fast pace.
The fight scene was my favourite highlight, dramatic and skilfully done. The nightmare sequence to the music of “Somewhere” was balletic. The evening was not only enjoyable but memorable and I’m sure I will still be singing the songs to myself for weeks to come; and to the opinion of my grandson, who is very firmly into current media and electronic sophistication, “it was fantastic”. I can’t say it better.
West Side Story at The Lyceum Sheffield, a great theatre with welcoming staff, plentiful nearby car parking, excellent public transport.
Tickets cost from £31 to £45 (plus £1/£1.50 booking fee).
West Side Story is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield until 12 July. For more information or to book ticket click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Sheffield Theatres, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA | Box Office 0114 249 6000