Temperatures are running high in this pacey production of West Side Story, as the Sharks and Jets battle for supremacy in a fiery New York suburb.
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, the action sees Tony (Lewis Aves) and Mari (Jessica Stewart) fall in love across a racial divide and emotions spilling over into tragic violence.
The two leads have strong vocal talent, with their characterisations beginning to show through in their singing as much as straight acting. The standout performance though is from Ericka Yabut as Anita, who dazzles with Latin charm in the rambunctious set-piece America only to later be convincingly consumed with grief as the ‘rumble’ goes wrong.
There are some fun group pieces from this substantial cast: Tyler Brooks as Riff leads on Cool; the Jets bring in some slapstick and social commentary to Gee, Office Krupke; and I Feel Pretty is delightfully teasing. All benefit from Rhiannon Hopkin’s disciplined but free-flowing choreography.
Bernstein’s score mixes up-tempo jazz and classical orchestration and proved challenging for the live 14-piece orchestra on opening night.
Keith Herring’s simple set makes good use of the Playhouse exposed bricks, and Martin Frost’s bold costumes bring 50s style to the fore.
This is a hot summer show, told with confidence and style.