West Side Story Review

Curve Theatre, Leicester – until Saturday 11 January 2020

Reviewed by Boo Wakefield


I admit to being a little apprehensive going to see this new version of West Side Story as it is my mother’s favourite film from when it first came out in 1961 and she accompanied me to see it last night. Would it stand the test of time? Would it live up to her expectations? Or would it spoil her memories?

I had nothing to worry about. The Curve has put on another outstanding musical with the Young Company and the Curve Young Company. Sticking to the original script by Arthur Laurents, the stunning lyrics by Stephen Sonheim and the timeless score by Leonard Berstein, what could be improved? Step up Ellen Kane who has choreographed this production perfectly. There is a continuous flow to each act where the motion and script faultless moves into the dance and singing of each of the iconic songs, something that is often missing in modern musicals. None of the songs were left out, from “I Want To Be In America” sung by Maria (Adriana Ivelisse), Consuela (Abigail Climer) and Rosalia (Mireia Mambo) to “Gee Officer Krupke” performed brilliantly and humorously by the Jets boys. Kane’s choreography retained the original feel of the musical and filled every moment of this action-packed production.

Nikolai Foster should be congratulated for directing his cast through every emotion this story brings – rivalry, drama, passion, romance, jealousy and humour. It feels churlish to single out particular performers to applaud knowing that the whole cast played their part to put on such a polished show but Jamie Muscato (Tony) and Adriana Ivelisse (Maria) are truly convincing as the fatally attracted lovers. Their poignant, almost haunting rendition of “Somewhere” was enough to move you to tears but in contrast their young love is vibrant and uplifting.

Michael Taylor’s extraordinary set design is the icing on the cake using wire mesh cages, a throwback to the film, that the cast move about constantly, and piles of decaying buildings which sets the scene perfectly in run-down New York City in the fifties. His attention to detail from changing the lines of washing to bridal gowns to the impressive three-story set is the perfect backdrop. And even the orchestra, brilliantly and enthusiastically led by George Dyer, are not left out. They appear during the dance at the back of the stage but elevated so that we can all see them, a real treat and so affective.

This musical, still a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, has been brought right up to date with this production yet it still has that edgy feel from the rival gangs and the violence they bring, sadly that is all too relevant to our modern society.

Electrifying dancing, beautiful singing and wonderful acting, if you want to treat yourself to something really special this Christmas, get a ticket for this show! And yes, my mother loved it!