Review: West Side Story at The Rhodes

Lifestyle / Sun 5th Oct 2014 at 07:00pm

West Side StoryBy Harry Tennison

I HATE West Side Story which seems a bit of an issue. I just can’t stand it. Bernstein and Sondheim; sorry but I’d rather you just hadn’t bothered. Annoyingly, however, I had quite a few friends in the show so was legally obliged to go and watch it.

I still don’t really like West Side Story. It’s story annoys me (although Shakespeare is to blame for this), the fact that Tony is the worlds biggest drip annoys me and the fact that the people in it are consistently better at singing and dancing annoys me. Perhaps I’m just bitter…

What I did like, however, was this evenings production at the Rhodes Art Complex in Bishops Stortford. The cast, largely made up of graduates from Phoenix Theatre School, were an incredible ensemble unit and, it goes without saying, are an incredibly talented group of performers who need to ensure they carry on performing.

Whilst I do believe the character of Tony is a drip, Lewis Russell played him excellent. He showed the true determination Tony can possess when he is trying to stop the rumble, as well as the remorse and sorrow after he kills Bernado – who in turn, played by Sam Jackson, was incredible!

In terms of a shining star, however, there is only one winner. Abbie Middleton was a simply astonishing Maria. She has a terrific vocal range, is an incredibly talented dancer and shocked me with her acting in the final scene of the musical. Abbie: I know you will read this. You are amazing. Go for it girl because you can do it!

Malvern Hostick’s clever set design, combined with the superb direction of Phil Dale and choreography of Katie Barker-Dale, made this a very good piece of theatre. It was, however, the very talented cast that made it an excellent piece of theatre.

I look forward to seeing you all in the West End in a few years time.

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