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West Side Story by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd

Date

16th July 2015

Society

Easy Street Theatre Co

Venue

The Montgomery Theatre Sheffield

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Sallianne Foster-Major

Musical Director

Gavin Usher

Choreographer

Amanda Tyas

Report

Author: Jo Sykes

Amazing!   We were treated to a fabulous evening’s entertainment which was provided by Easy Street Theatre Company at The Montgomery Theatre with their production of West Side Story expertly directed by Sallianne Foster-Major.
The show opened with the first of many routines which had been cleverly choreographed by Amanda Tyas and I noted that the young people handled the basketball particularly well in an active number.  The audience could feel the tension already starting to build with the stand-offs and the very realistic fight scene.  The cast made good use of the stage space and this was important when the full large cast came together on stage.
There were many excellent performances by all the young performers. Helena Anderson’s interpretation of Maria was beautiful and she did well in maintaining the accent.  She demonstrated the emotion of a young women on the brink of so much, yet held back by family loyalties.  Sam McElhattan gave a controlled performance as Tony and in the scenes between Maria and Tony these two young actors excellently captured the passion, desire and anticipation.  The audience could easily believe they were in love as they both gave a strong mature interpretation of their characters.
Laura Hewitt gave a powerful performance as Anita and showed great strength of characterisation in handling the wide range of emotions experienced by the character.  Her grasp of the role demonstrated great maturity.  Riff, Ethan Carley, gave a very believable performance and together with Dylan Lambert, as Bernardo, handled the fight scene very well.  I could feel the pent up emotions between these two characters to the extent that I couldn’t decide whether I was a Shark or a Jet.
All members of the Sharks and Jets did a fantastic job.  I particularly enjoyed ‘Gee Officer Krupke’ and was impressed with their singing and dancing throughout the show.  The cast were also well supported by some young adults with Richard Granger (Doc), James Smith (Detective Shrank), James Godfrey (Officer Krupke) and Digory Holmes (Glad Hand) all giving strong performances without over powering the younger members of the cast.
The set was simple and very effective.   The movement of barriers by the cast added to the division in the gangs, but was carried out so effectively it didn’t look like they were moving set.  The props and furniture used were handled well by the stage crew who effectively moved us around the story enabling the show to move swiftly.  The clever scaffolding structure at the side of the stage was well used for the balcony scene.  Together with atmospheric lighting – I was transported to downtown New York.
 I liked the costumes which appropriately represented the time and place.  I loved the differential made in colour between the two gangs.  All the costumes were authentic – down to the appropriate footwear.
Congratulations to MD Gavin Usher who ensured that the orchestra blended perfectly with the cast and couldn’t be faulted. 
Easy Street Theatre Company took on the challenge, of what are fundamentally very adult themes with amazing success.  Gangs, murder, passion, criminality are not easy to portray realistically by young people, but this cast did excellently and handled all these issues with confidence and maturity beyond their years.
Overall I had a fantastic evening watching this very talented group of youngsters, who along with the adults who support them clearly put in a huge amount of commitment and hard work.  Well done to everyone involved.