Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WEST SIDE STORY


Nicola Hall (Maria), Lachlan Whan (Tony)
Photo: Steph Burgess
Free Rain Theatre,                                          

The Q, Queanbeyan until 24th February.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens




“West Side Story”, with its familiar Romeo and Juliet story set among warring gangs in the New York slums, is given an impressive new production by Free Rain Theatre, which effectively captures much of the excitement of this musical masterpiece.

Leonard Bernstein’s still stunning score, thrillingly performed by a large orchestra conducted by Major Geoff Grey, drives the production along, complimented by a series of well-staged set pieces, most notably the “ Dance at the Gym” and the impressively staged fight sequences, that are genuinely exciting.

Director, Anne Somes has chosen a predominately young cast for this production, and while this has paid off in the lead roles, some ensemble members simply do not have  the technical  skills necessary to do justice to Lisa Buckley’s demanding choreography, especially obvious in the opening “Jet Song”.   

Despite his slim physique, Lachlan Whan is a virile, passionate Tony, whose depiction of ecstatic first love is both believable and affecting. His performance of “Maria” is a highlight.  Nicola Hall is equally impressive as Maria, and despite her pretty voice showing signs of tiredness in the second act, her acting remained focussed and convincing.  

Zack Drury (Riff) and Jordan Kelly (Bernado) are both outstanding as the warring gang leaders, but Amy Dunham as Anita, (unexpectedly, in flat shoes) appeared tentative and insecure in a role that should deliver fireworks. 

                                (This review appears in City News 14th February edition)

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