More than 60 years after it revolutionised musical theatre, West Side Story still packs a punch. Themes of disadvantaged, disaffected youth and prejudice against immigrant minorities remain relevant, crowned by a centrepiece of two star-crossed lovers from opposing worlds trying to create their own to transcend the hatred.
That plot line, of course, borrows from Romeo and Juliet, transposing it to New York City and warring teen gangs of white Polish-Americans and Puerto Ricans in the late 1950s – with virtually the same inevitable outcome. Or so one would think – because Brisbane’s opening audience reactions indicated that there remain people who haven’t seen the show or its even more successful Oscar-winning movie adaptation, and don’t know its story.
That may be somewhat helpful for this production (devised by Germany’s BB Group) featuring emerging and neophyte talents, which made its Australian premiere in 2019 in Melbourne.
The work itself shines as a timeless classic, due to the contributions of its stellar original creative team: creator/director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright Arthur Laurents. Pithy lines...