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West Side Story - Reviews

West Side Story

  • Nottingham Evening Post
  • BBC Nottingham
  • Noda
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  • Nottingham Evening Post - Peter Jordan, Wednesday 26th April 2006

    This masterpiece of musical theatre mirroring Romeo and Juliet's ill-fated romanace is as pertinent today as when Bernstein's classic hit the Broadway stage 49 years ago.

    Set on the mean streets of New York, where 'The Jets' fight their gang rivals 'The Sharks', Carlton Operatic Society's interpretation certainly has a wow factor.

    In Samantha Parks and Dan Armstrong as doomed lovers Maria and Tony, Carlton boasts a formidable pairing.

    The talented duo deliver the show's big numbers, including Maria, Tonight, One Hand One Heart and I Feel Pretty with admirable precision to match their high quality acting performances.

    There are sparkling contributions, too, from Davy Yates and Charlie Bedson as rival gang leaders Riff and Bernardo, but it is Rachel Jacoby, on her debut, who makes a dazzling impression as the volatile Anita.

    Mike Newbold makes his mark as Doc, Jim Blackmore is well cast in the role of Lieutenant Shrank, and Mark Taylor, Kate Chilton and Kate Williams shine in two brilliant teams of gang members.

    This vibrant production owes much to director Amanda Hall's dynamic leadership, musical director Stephen Williams' immaculate orchestration, and brilliant dance routines choreographed by Rachael Newman.

    BBC Nottingham Website - Margaret and Gordon Poulson, Wednesday 26th April 2006

    West Side Story, presented by Carlton Operatic Society, is at the Nottingham Playhouse until 29 April.

    The show, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is loosely based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

    Set in the slums of New York we observe the behaviour of two gangs, locals known as the Jets, and Puerto Rican immigrants named The Sharks. They argue and fight over streets they all claim to be their territory.

    The opening scene with a 'rumble' between the gangs set the standard for the rest of the show, colourful, energetic, with brilliant choreography.

    Dan Armstrong gave a strong performance as Tony. He explored a full range of emotions, from peacemaker, tender lover - to a man so consumed with rage that he commits murder and pays with his life. His voice was a pleasure to listen to.

    Samantha Parkes put masses of energy into her role. Her looks and clear singing voice made Maria vibrantly alive and her scene with the dying Tony was very emotional.

    Everyone who took part in this production deserves to be commended for their energy and competence. The hard work that was put into this show was clearly evident and a professional standard was achieved.

    At the beginning the set was stark with just scaffolding on the stage, and as the musical progressed they were used with good effect to represent different places within the story. The frequent scene changes were executed with quiet efficiency.

    The costumes, particularly the ones for the girls, were very feminine and colourful with the full skirts and stiff net petticoats.

    The orchestra had lots to do and their competent playing contributed to the success of the show.

    Superb story, fantastic music, wonderful acting, singing and dancing all make this production well-worth going to see.


    Noda - Peter Beddall

    Within seconds of the house lights dimming you were aware you would witness a superb performance, and pulling out all the stops, Carlton proved this to be the case. The entire mainly young company were full of zest and enthusiasm and the cracking pace never faltered throughout. Dan Armstrong and Samantha Parkes were ideally matched as Tony and Maria, they had the perfect look, voice and acting ability for their roles, as did all the principal characters. The set design was simple but very effective and ran smoothly. Congratulations to Amanda, Stephen and Rachael on this extremely fine production.