fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

West Side Story

Today's theatre going was significantly more satisfying than yesterday's. I went to the National Theatre to see the pre-Broadway production of the West Side Story revival.

I've often said that West Side Story is the 2nd best musical of all time. I may have to change my mind. Sorry, Guys and Dolls, but this was an astonishing production.

What I think made the difference is that Joey McKneely has reproduced the original choreography by Jerome Robbins. And what choreography it is! Robbins knew how to use stillness as well as motion to create mood. For example, the opening prologue makes the Jets seem incredibly menacing and much of that menace comes in frozen instances.

The gimmick of this production is that parts of it are in Spanish. That makes sense, of course, but there are some inconsistencies. For example, one would expect at least the parts of "America" that Rosalia sings to be in Spanish, but that song was performed entirely in English. Perhaps the producers felt that Sondheim's lyrics would lose too much in translation, while the actual lyrics for "I Feel Pretty" (translated as "Siento Hermosa") are less important. At any rate, the concept worked well enough and even people with little to no Spanish should have no trouble following what's going on. (My Spanish was up to catching about half the words, but I also know the show quite well. So I was trying to judge by reactions from the people around me.)

As for the performances, the one I really have to note is Karen Olivo as Anita. She was simply sizzling in the role and I predict that she has a fine career ahead of her.

I also have to comment on the scenic design, which is simple (for the most part) and stark. The rumble scene is handled especially well, with the highway overpass and chain link fence providing a grim urban environment.

This is only running here another week. But it's opening on Broadway in March and it should be one of the hot tickets.
Tags: musicals, theatre

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