West Side Story: The Epiphany Duplet’s Musical Review
Musical was how the Epiphany Duplet started (kinda) and now, after Peps’ involvement in Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress is finally over, we can finally get back to musical-watching again!
We are no Romeo and Juliet (Thank goodness!) but it’s a story that I grew to love after watching the 1996 Romeo + Juliet by Leonardo DiCaprio.
WEST SIDE STORY SYNOPSIS:
A boy. A girl. Two rival gangs. One fatal love affair.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s tumultuous love story Romeo and Juliet, and set amidst the vicious rivalry of teenage gangs in 1950s New York, WEST SIDE STORY’s ground-breaking choreography and unforgettable score changed the face of musical theatre for ever when it burst onto the Broadway stage in 1957. In a sweltering New York summer, the boys from the Upper West Side neighbourhood are on the prowl. Ready to explode at any moment they dance with their girls, the air vibrating with the rhythms of mambo, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz.They belong to two enemy street gangs ruling the immigrant quarter – the Jets and the Sharks – and a clash is imminent. The Jets, sons of previous immigrants to America, are fighting the new arrivals from Puerto Rico, the Sharks, for domination of the streets in the area. Among them, Tony, a Jet, and Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks, fall in love.
WEST SIDE STORY REVIEW:
Tiffany Yong: As a story span over a short 48 hours, the whirlwind romance between Tony (Marc Koeck) and Maria (Natalie Ballenger) was a tad too incredible. I was shaking my head in disbelief as I see the two characters do their “love at first sight” act. However, I had to admit that Maria got me at their “Tonight” where they fantasised over their pretend marriage and I couldn’t help but root for them.
Photo Credits: Johan Persson.
Peps Goh: For me the plot only really started for me in Act 2. Where the world and characters are fully established and the main arc had reached its peak. The numbers had also begun to be much more memorable for me in the second act as well.
My favorite number by far would have to be “Gee, Officer Krupke”, a fun and tongue-in-cheek segments when the Jets (Ryan P. Cyr as A-Rab and Daniel Russell as Baby John) played out how they would insolently weasel out of punishment from the law. For me it felt like a really subtle and ingenious social commentary on the flawed American law system, that somehow seems as relevant today as it ever was, sadly.
Peps Goh: All in all this musical is a succinctly written period piece addressing a condensed combination of unwarranted racism, unsubstantiated prejudice, misdirected teenage vitality and their consequent effects on the lives around them.
Another portion that stood out to me were the “Mambo” & “Cha-cha” segments, filled with high-energy choreography, performed to a crazy fast-paced tempo accentuated with complex formation changes. I am equal parts amazed by the sheer amount of athleticism this musical requires, and worried for the ankles atop those really high heels during such sequences.
Tiffany Yong: If I have to choose a favourite character, it will be Maria’s fiesty friend- Anita (Keely Beirne). The change in her character arc from Act 1 to Act 2 was dramatic and heart-stopping. Being one of the rare few to trust Maria for her choice to the train of incidents that led to her betrayal, you couldn’t help but pity her plight. I also love the choreographer brought out fight and violent scenes through dance, it was surprisingly infectious musically.
Tiffany Yong: It was enjoyable watching the cast utilise the set designed by Paul Gallis, especially the retractable stairs and the separation of the set to represent movement and change in location. The rusty and metallic structure brought the dirty Upper West Side neighbourhood to Singapore while not taking attention away from the cast’s performance. The timely sound effects and accurate lighting design helped to emphasise the atmosphere and moods of the characters.
If you are a fan of the timeless love tragedy, this is a performance you should not miss!
WHERE: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands | MRT: BayFront
WHEN: Till Aug 27, 8pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 2pm and 8pm (Saturdays), 1pm and 6pm (Sundays)
ADMISSION: $55 to $185 from MarinaBaySands Ticketing (6688 8826) or Sistic (6348 5555)
DO YOU KNOW? (Trivia)
– Choreographer and Director Joey McKneely learned the original choreography as a dancer of West Side Story directly from Jerome Robbins. He was first introduced to West Side Story by Jerome Robbins himself, when he danced in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. He was then chosen to direct and reproduce his choreography for West Side Story at La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, his directorial debut. Since then, his productions of West Side Story have been produced throughout the world, including two sold out runs at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and the Sadler’s Wells Theater in London where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Revival.
– Since the premier in 2003, BB Promotion produced West Side Story 6 ties for international tours, playing around 1500 shows on over 20 countries and almost 100 cities. It takes 5 trucks to transport the 11 tons of set equipments and over 50 costumes. The movie version released in 1961, went on to win an incredible 10 Oscars (including Best Picture), cementing the reputation of this masterpiece.
WEST SIDE STORY CAST & CREW:
Tony: Marc Koeck | Maria: Natalie Ballenger | Anita: Keely Beirne | Riff: Lance Hayes | Bernardo: Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva | Doc: Dennis Holland | Lt. Shrank: Michael Scott | Officer Krupke: Kenn Christopher
[JETS] Glad Hand: Eric Rolland | Action: Joe Bigelow | S-Rab: Ryan P. CYR | Baby John: Daniel Russell | Snow Boy: Logan Scott Mitchell | Big Deal: Andy Frank | Diesel: Kyle Weiler | Graziella: Lauren Guerra | Velma: Jill Gittleman | Minnie: Carley Ingold | Clarice: Veronica Fiaoni | Anybodys: Natalie Sanchez
[SHARKS] Chino: Julio Catano-Yee | Pepe: Cameron Mitchell Jackson | Luis: Georgios Maniadis Metaxas | Anxious: Nahum Mclean | Nibbles: Jonathan Quigley | Moose: A.J. Lockhart | Consuelo: Kelsey Elisabeth Holley | Teresita: Lauren Soto | Francisca: Kayla Moniz | Margarita: Nikki Croker | Swing: Kelly Methven, Nick Raynor
Musical Director & Conductor: Donald Chan | Choreographer & Director: Joey McKneely
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*Disclosure: Invitation from Base Entertainment and Sliding Doors Entertainment. No monetary compensation was received for the review.