Bristol Theatre News

West Side Story at the Bristol Hippodrome Review

West Side Story. The Tour


Moody lighting and flamboyant dancing creates an electric atmosphere during scenes of West Side Story running at the Bristol Hippodrome this week.

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, two rival gangs fight each other on the streets of New York. the gritty violence and racism takes place on a dark set of black and white photographic projection and a spider web of steel apartment block ladders.

From the outset, the chorography dazzles, performed brilliantly by an able company of fantastic dancers.

In somewhat of a role reversal, the female leads get the strongest songs in this score, but the male dancers mostly get the best moves.

Katie Hall does really well as Maria, capturing youth, innocence, naivety and that first rush of intense love. Perhaps the sound could do with some attention as her voice seemed unfairly thin at times.

As Tony, Louis Maskell just didn’t get the material and time – blame Bernstein and Sondheim – to really give us a believable emotional depth.

Both originator Shakespeare and Prokofiev manage to give us the materials to believe in the intensity of Romeo and Juliet’s love, but somehow, West Side Story doesn’t manage to capture this so well. It just doesn’t give the performers the necessary time at key points in the narrative.

Despite being a 1957 adaptation, it’s discomforting to find the immigration, racism and gang violence of equal concern with regards to today’s young people.

It’s really sad that not much has changed. Perhaps this is why Tony’s death at the end doesn’t have the emotional punch as Romeo’s. And, for those who have never seen the film, Maria’s complete lack of suicide comes as a flat disappointment.

But with the limitations of the actual show aside, the company are fantastic.

Ultimately, Djalenga Scott as the strong and sassy Anita steals the show with her fiery singing and dancing.


At the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 08 February 2014