West Side Story

Date 23rd February 2019
Society Zenith Youth Theatre Company
Venue Kingswood School Theatre, Bath
Type of Production Musical
Director Scott Rogers
Musical Director Roy Page
Choreographer Julie Dallimore & Delia Lee

Report

Author: Dee way

"West Side Story" is an emotional story of love across social and cultural boundaries and as such requires the expression of a lot of feeling, both of aggression and hurt, to match the music and libretto.  It was fantastic to see this company of talented and energetic young people tackle this tale with such gusto.

The Direction was highly inventive, with cross-stage fights and movement, lovely contrasts in the romantic scenes and a very ingenious pull-out bed. The set was quite simple but powerful, with four sloping blocks creating an urban jungle for the gangs to act on where the angles and railings contributed enormously to the effect of the actors leaping on and off them.  The backdrop was a heart with a clear crack across it, a suggestion of the heartbreak to come for several characters depicted very simply and effectively, while the mobile shop counter was wonderful!  The use made of this set was excellent, with basketballs used to open the action, while the action on the blocks and railings gave a wonderful impression of angst and spare energy.  There was no doubt at all as to where the action was placed, with the graffiti, basketball court, fast paced movement across the stage and the sound of city traffic noise as the audience entered..

Placing the large orchestra in the centre front may have cost some seats but it was extremely effective, as the music and singing blended beautifully. It may also have helped with the keeping of precise timing in the dance routines and moves.  The music was very well played, with a wide variety of feeling given full vent and gave excellent support to the singers. There were one or two problems with sound levels on microphones, but generally the sound was well balanced.  Costumes were well done, with good variety of designs and colours, but clear definition of the two gangs. 

This show requires good choreography, and here the moves and their execution were excellent!  The sea of arms was amazing, with everyone moving together and at the same speed. This was a visual triumph!  The fights and dances were very good, looking realistic and uncontrived, with a couple of the cast really standing out as exceptional dancers/gymnasts.  There were some very good patterns created in the dance stand-off.  The 'Officer Krupke' moves were very funny, while the movement on the death scenes was totally arresting.

However, it was the discipline of the young actors that really raised the level of this production: they moved together on the beat, all maintained their characters throughout and the choreography was highly accurate and co-ordinated.  The inclusion of a few adults as specific characters helped to clearly highlight the teenage angst of the main cast.  The singing and dialogue were very well delivered with great feeling and clarity. Overall, this was an excellent production that made full use of the energy and athleticism of the young cast. It was a joy to watch and very moving.