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Review: Theatre Royal’s West Side Story is well worth waiting for

PUBLISHED: 15:40 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 15:40 04 September 2014

West Side Story, running at Norwich Theatre Royal

West Side Story, running at Norwich Theatre Royal

©ALASTAIR MUIR CONTACT alastair@alastairmuir.com

It may be the last two weeks of this production’s UK tour – but good things come to those who wait.

West Side Story, running at Norwich Theatre Royal West Side Story, running at Norwich Theatre Royal

One of the most successful stage shows of all time, West Side Story was ground-breaking on its debut – a gritty counterpoint to its ll-smiles-and-jazz-hands contemporaries.

And the story of rumbling rival gangs, racism and poverty still, sadly, resonates today.

An inspired retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in Manhattan in the 1950s, the starcross’d lovers are Tony – a member of The Jets – and Maria, sister of the leader of their sworn enemies the Sharks.

Meeting at a dance, it’s love at first sight for the pair – the famous balcony scene is played out on the fire escape of Maria’s apartment block – but the union forces simmering, deep-rooted tensions to boiling point. The score is sublime – Maria, Tonight, Somewhere and America are Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim at their absolute best. And the choreography – in this production devised by Joey McKneely, a former assistant to original choreographer Jerome Robbins, who also directs – is a joy.

Katie Hall, last seen at the Theatre Royal as Cosette in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables, plays Maria.

A phenomenal talent, she could break your heart with a single note and her sprightly, lovestruck performance of I Feel Pretty – with its bittersweet undertones – is a highlight.

Dominic Hodson is a charismatic and conflicted Tony, his loyalties divided between his love and his gang. There are also spirited performances by Djalenga Scott as Anita and Jack Wilcox as Riff.

If you haven’t already got a ticket, don’t delay any longer.

West Side Story is at Norwich Theatre Royal until September 13. Call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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