REVIEW | West Side Story

West Side Story

It is a MUST-SEE to Witness and Share in Such Magic!

Reviewed by Karina Lawrence

WOW! What an absolutely stunning experience!

From the moment you entered the performance site, with the incredible scenery at Fleet Steps in Mrs Macquarie’s Point on the iconic Sydney Harbour you were literally blown away!

The energy was apparent along with the sunshine’s rays, gleaming over the magical harbour with the city skyscrapers glistening in the background.

A red carpet descending all the way down the hill to the bustling harbour towards the impressive stage set up and outdoor bars with eating structures and fairy lights spanning the harbour just added to the buzz and atmosphere that filled the air.

VIP’S and Celebrities mingled, preparing for this prestigious experience of the Opening of Handa Opera on Sydney’s Harbour with West Side Story.

It’s just majestic and uplifting to experience this pictures scene, just in itself.

This Opera Australia performance of the original masterpiece from the 1950’s is filled with excitement, beauty and cultural diversity with a strong theme and message that ultimately focusses on love, unity and hope for a less divided outlook on humanity and inclusion. Based on the conception of Jerome Robbins with the original book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, you will certainly not be disappointed with what almost feels like a once in a lifetime experience.

The structure of the stage is impressive. Brian Thomson brings a truly magical set design that rises 15meters above the stage and occupies 3 subway cars that measure 9 meters in length.

Indeed a well thought out set that depicts the scenic and iconic story told of the gang wars between immigrants and a desired belonging based in New York! The stage construction is massive and also build on a slant which makes it effective for the tiered seating from the audiences perspective, while you also take into consideration the incredible cast that move around on this surface with grace and ease!

Such a credit to their already athletic ability and endurance throughout the show.

Directed by Francesca Zambello and associate director Eric Sean Fogel along with the musical director Guy Simpson the show is impactful and beautifully bought to life.

The lighting design by John Rayment is stunning and the appreciation of the structure of this whole set up is impressive and takes you to another level of awe and inspiration of this theatrical experience.

The way the sets effortlessly transition, taking you from scene to scene transforms you in amongst the storyline in such a majestic way. A ginormous crane assists in the well known scene to any theatre goer or follower of this epic production, when we are taken to the dance scene at the gym where the Jets and Sharks integrate in powerful and impactive energetic performance with a gleaming disco ball hovering meters in the air.

There are fireworks that only add to the thrill and excitement of such a venue, as within the moments you hear the pounding of the harbour waves crashing against the set, while you gaze through the stage amid with the city lights as a stunning background.

You can’t help but feel nostalgic and full of wonder as you sit and breath in the fresh air and beauty of this magnificent harbour.

The music was Devine and powerful right from the opening overture! Such an incredible team led by musical director Guy Simpson along with Associate MD Anthony Barnhill, assistant MD Hayden Barltrop, sound designer Des O’Neil and revival sound designer Jake Luther.

The orchestra were exceptional and is accommodated directly underneath the stage in a specially designed studio known as the ‘Underworld’ where the conductor maintains communication with the performers through in-ears and television screens while the incredible sound is transported into the open night air with an array of over 223 speakers.

The cast radiated passion and dedication and were ALL standouts!

The commitment along with vocal texture and purity from leads Tony played by Billy Bourchier and Maria, performed by Nina Korbe along with the passion from Kimberley Hodgson who played Anita, was both inspiring and impactful.

It was also wonderful to see renowned musical theatre star Wayne Scott Kermond share his joyful talents in bringing to life the role of Doc with humour yet depth of character, who has featured multiple times in this specific musical over the span of his acclaimed career with this being his 4th experience of sharing and performing in West Side Story.

Revival choreographer Kiira Schmidt Carper along with assistant director and choreographer Brendon Yates and adding to the creative team assistant choreographer Luca Dinardo, created and superb reinvention of this acclaimed masterpiece production. The movements were bought to life in great detail taking us on a journey and allowing you to reminisce with those original and easily depicted dance scenes throughout this memorable production. The lines and breath just beautifully delivered and connected with the musicality in each movement.

The costumes by designer Jennifer Irwin were well depicted and complimentary in colour schemes and design both showcasing beautifully finished off pieces with great attention to detail.

So a BIG YES from me to treat yourself to a star studded event and be captivated into the magical world of this iconic and creative masterpiece in one of Australia’s ideal settings and surrounds.

Make sure you enjoy this gift of theatre with exceptional talent that runs until April 21st.

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