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West Side Story Opens at Sadler’s Wells Theatre

From left to right: Elena Sancho Pereg, Liam Tobin, Beau Middlebrook, Armando Yearwood, Lower picture: Jet Boys


If you’re one of the few who haven’t seen the perennial show West Side Story, be sure to catch the current international touring production playing at Saddlers Wells Theatre, as it is nothing short of sensational. Director, Joey McNeely has proved that by staying true to the original 1957* classic with Jerome Robbins revolutionary choreography and Leonard Bernstein timeless score, this show still has huge appeal and relevance to modern audiences of all ages.

Before making it’s way to London’s West End the show has toured throughout Europe, playing at renowned houses like the Chatelet in Paris, and the beautiful San Carlo Opera House in Naples.

The cast and crew of over forty have an affinity for their respective roles and work well together to pull off this show. Elena Sancho Pereg and Liam Tobin, who played Maria and Tony respectively, were convincing as desperate young lovers who simply chose the wrong person to fall in love with. Be that as it may, we all know how that goes – once you fall, you fall hard and you cant change it. The character of Anita is a firecracker of a woman and the audience wasnt disappointed one little bit with Penelope Armstead-Williamsportrayal of her. When she came on stage it was impossible to think that nothing salty was going to come out of her mouth.

Jerome Robbin’s choreography plays a critical part in the shows narrative and is essentially what made this particular production of West Side Story so great. The dancers executed the moves so well that it made the audience feel like it was the natural thing to do when youre in New York City: Dance. When the finger snapping Jets couldn’t contain their teenage hormones any longer, they take it out on the rival gang ‘sharks.’ The meticulously choreographed stage fights have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Specifically, when watching Beau Middlebrook’s performance as Snowboy in the famous ‘spit’ scene. The audience fell silent as they watched Middlebrook’s tall, athletic stature defy gravity and fly across the stage at his adversary. (pictured left)

How about that Leonard Bernstein score? Does it ever get old? The audience didnt think so. They ate up every ounce of that magnificent score from beginning to end. Stephen Sondheims lyrics still work and they were sung beautifully by each member of the very talented cast particularly by the shows two leads. Miss Pereg, though a tiny thing, has a voice larger than life itself and Mr Tobin’s rendition of ‘Maria’ had the audience reaching for tissues.

The play is worth seeing simply for the excitement of being in the same room as all the great musicians and performers. To be that close to real people who are really singing and dancing and crying and yelling and laughing is something akin to being actually really and truly alive. Its just something you can never experience sitting in front of a television or in a movie house. “The plays the thing,” wrote Shakespeare, whose Romeo and Juliet West Side Story is based upon. But you already knew that. I recommend booking tickets now as you don’t want to miss out on this one. Playing until September 22.



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