West Side Story still as fresh as ever

West side
West side

Times columnist, Jack Nixon went along to see the popular musical, West Side Story at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen last week, where he took a trip back down memory lane:

Nearly 60 years on since last seeing one of the great social musicals the show remains as fresh, and poignant as it was when it first hit the UK theatre scene in the late 1950’s.

The well known Romeo and Juliet theme has also lost none of its appeal, especially when so wonderfully presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group at HM Theatre over the last two weeks.

The memories of seeing the show in the Kings Theatre in 1961 flooded back as the well worn plot unfolded before me, sparking off thoughts of loves long lost in the mists of my time as a student in the capital.

But that’s for another day, or more likely never to be shared - well at least so publicly.

The show requires to have two strong principals, and in Louis Maskell as Tony and Katie Hall as Maria did not disappoint.

Both had fine, strong voices, combined with powerful, emotional performances, sufficient to send a packed house happy with its lot.

Djalenga Scott was a convincing Anita, and a superb foil for the less complicated Maria.

But once again it was the excellent choreography which makes the show so memorable.

The ballet scene was particularly effective, while the rafters rang with the strident clashes of the two gangs - the Jets and the Sharks, superbly led by Jack Wilcock and Javier Cid.

The heart-stopping gang fights were particularly well done, but for me it was the haunting lyrics which made the show.

‘Tonight’, ‘Somewhere’ and of course ‘Maria’ when well sung are spell-binding numbers.

They were to my delight all given the treatment, but for many the social commentary is best made in Gee, Officer Krupe.

As you can gather, I enjoyed myself, but will not be waiting another 53 years to see one of the great musicals of all time.