West Side Story bows out at the Lowry
22 July 2009 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews "There's a time for us" sing Tony and Maria in Stephen Sondheim's wonderful "Somewhere" from the hit show West Side Story. Well, that time is now, with this 50th Anniversary production, closing its worldwide tour at the Lowry. From the opening number through to the tragic ending the show takes us on a roller-coaster ride, and somehow hasn't aged in the fifty years since it was first performed: given the subject matter of street gangs and knife crime, this could have been written last week. The performance seemed a little lacking in energy at the start but soon picked up its pace. The Jets were generally a high powered bunch, all of whom had excellent dance skills. Unfortunately they were a little let down by Howard Jones' Riff, who never displayed the leadership skills necessary to make you believe in him. Daniel Koek's Tony was excellently sung, but seemed a little formal for the passionate side of his character. The same could not be said of Sofia Escobar's Maria. A delightful, diminutive figure, her voice soared as did her portrayal of the innocent forced into maturity by circumstance. However the performance of the evening comes from Jayne Westaby as Anita. Not only does she have a great voice, but the acting and comedy talent to make the part entirely her own. The vibrant performance of "America" with Westaby and Hazel Gardner taking the leads was a particular tour de force. The Sharks, led by Dan Burton's Bernardo, are a colourful and energetic bunch. Whilst not given as much to do as the Jets, they still are a great counterpoint to the Jets and yet show so many similarities despite the racial differences. Joey McKneely has reproduced Jerome Robbins original direction and choreography with a faithfulness which makes a stunning visual experience. On a set of downbeat tenements and dingy spaces Paul Gallis has created the perfect place for the action to take place. The decision to use "Somewhere" as a dream style dance sequence, whilst not part of the original idea, worked surprisingly well, enhanced by the beautiful voice of Gardner. Overall this show is a worthy tribute to a musical that has been delighting audiences now for half a century. See it before this tour closes for good on Saturday. -Helen Jones Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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