West Side Story at Theatre Royal

West Side Story took Nottingham to New York for the performance of Leonard Bernstein’s classic musical of racial prejudice and doomed love.

The opening dance scene began the show in all its high kicking, finger clicking glory. It was as much a feat of athleticism as anything, as the spirited Sharks faced off against the blue-eyed, American boy Jets. It was impossible not to be impressed.

A feat of athleticism

A feat of athleticism

The show managed to turn the small stage of Theatre Royal into the gritty streets of New York with a projected background and an impressive three floor scaffolding set. The height of the set added majesty to the show that unfolded beneath it and the idea that we were watching fractured, territorial New York was completely believable.

Finger clicking good

Finger clicking good

The acting was flawless. Maria’s (Katie Hall), voice was almost operatic, effortlessly sweet and clear, and a good foil to Louis Maskell’s Tony, who was suitably clean cut as her idealistic, star crossed lover. Their duet ‘Tonight, tonight’ made hearts swell, just to break them in Maria’s final rendition of ‘Somewhere’.


Star crossed lovers Maria and Tony

Though there was no real weak link, – even Lieutenant Shrank with his terrible accent was aptly imposing – when Anita (Djalenga Scott) stepped on the stage it was hard to look at anyone else.

In the pivotal death scene, (if you don’t know the story then boo for you) that sees Chino shoot Tony, was met with titters as the sound of the shot was so loud and sudden.

A dangerous move for an audience of over 60s, Tony might not have been the only death that night. But as soon as the surprise passed, it was replaced by sadness. The woman in front row wept as Tony died in Maria’s arms.

By the time the performance ended, she was not the only one.

West Side Story was wonderful, funny as it was tragic, and unfailingly entertaining. The worlds number one greatest musical earnt its title that night.