Thursday, 27 October 2011

REVIEW: Vancouver Opera West Side Story



From the Program Notes "From the beginning, the team [Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents, Robbins] was adamant that this not be an opera"

Perhaps that might explain the large number of empty seats at last night's performance. Are people put off by the word "opera"? It was a Broadway show - groundbreaking, revolutionary but highly successful - and then a block buster movie. Which was when I discovered it for myself - just as I was entering the teenage phase of dating. This was actually the first time I had seen the stage show - which has many notable differences to the movie, and is in many ways stronger. Though dated, of course. The story is "Romeo and Juliet" reworked but it is the music and lyrics that captured me - and, last night, the dancing.

I got very emotionally involved - really to my own surprise. I thought I was past that, but I felt like a teenager again - anxious, nervous, and emotional all at the same time. Yet this is a very stagey presentation. It makes a virtue of the need to move people on and off the stage and there are no stage hands to move the scenery or props. The cast does that. But it all works brilliantly. There are only four performances left. If you can, you should not miss it.

And, honestly, I would suggest that you ignore the surtitles: they are quite unnecessary and also very inaccurate.

Incidentally the Opera has taken a real risk with this show - see the Globe article

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