First written as a book by Arthur Laurents in the late 1940s, West Side Story first appeared on Broadway in 1957 and has remained a steady favourite on stages the world over since then.
That it was chosen as Opera Australia’s first musical foray on Sydney Harbour proves it is just as appealing 70 years after its conception as a tale of immigration, warring gangs, and doomed love.
The magical alchemy of writer Arthur Laurents, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins, is reproduced in this lively and colourful production by director Francesca Zambello and choreographer Julio Monge.
Sing along with the young lovers Maria (Julie Lea Goodwin), a Puerto Rican girl, and Tony (Alexander Lewis), a former leader of the Jets, in their song Tonight, thrill to the exciting and dangerous exchanges between the rival gangs of the Jets (the All-American boys) and the Sharks (the Puerto Ricans), and tap your feet to the gorgeously vibrant dance of the Puerto Rican girls singing America.
The large stage gave the dancers space to show off their moves and allowed set designer Brian Thomson to create a colourful diner car on wheels.
The musical is remarkable for containing so many hit songs, with not a dud among them. They include Somewhere, I Feel Pretty, Something’s Coming, and Maria.
Who would have thought that Romeo and Juliet would be revived in west side New York some 350 years after Shakespeare wrote his play?
This is a fabulous production, definitely not to be missed.
Until Apr 21. Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquarie’s Point. $99-$361+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.opera.org.au
Reviewed by Irina Dunn