I saw West Side Story at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. The Royal Exchange is an incredible theatre which is in the round. West Side Story is currently sold out for the entire run so they are bringing it back next spring!
West Side Story tells the story of the Jets and the Sharks, which are two New York gangs, and Maria from the Sharks falls in love with Tony from the Jets. That is the plot in a nutshell.
This was my first time watching West Side Story and was stunned by the whole show. The cast were brilliant with Gabriela Garcia playing Maria, Andy Coxon playing Tony and Jocasta Almgill playing Anita. Gabriela Garcia’s performance was one of the best performance’s I have seen in years. She gave such a real and gritty performance with beautiful vocals. Andy Coxon was brilliant as Tony with powerful vocals. His Maria was so electric and beautiful. Their chemistry was so heartwarming and you really rooted for them. Jocasta Almgill so great as Anita and I really enjoyed the duet with Gabriela Garcia towards the end of Act 2. The ensemble was slick and tight, they gave scenes realism and tension.
The design is by Anna Fleischle is bold and abstract which works well in the space. I really liked the costumes of the Jets and the Sharks because it told you which gang they were in. The lighting design by Lee Curran is stunning. I loved how bold it made the production with LED lighting bars mixed with normal theatrical lighting. Sarah Frankcom has directed this masterpiece to full justice. Again, the piece was so real and it a real feat to direct it in the round and not have anyone miss important things.
The dynamic score by Leonard Bernstein is played by an 11 piece band who are housed in a soundproofed box outside the Auditorium. They sounded great under the control of Jason Carr. There is a big and strong book by Arthur Laurents which holds the story up well.
Some stand out moments were the Dance sections by Aletta Collins which took a contemporary sense which blended action and dance well. Other moments were “Maria”, “Tonight” and “Somewhere”
Overall West Side Story at the Royal Exchange is one of the most thrilling and dynamic pieces of theatre I have ever seen and I would highly recommend it to anyone. This is a 5 star masterpiece not to be missed!!!!
Thanks for reading! Have you seen West Side Story? Feel free to comment below or message me on Instagram @unofficialtheatre