Thursday, February 20, 2020
Review: WEST SIDE STORY ON BROADWAY
Slightly longer review:
The score, by Leonard Bernstein is, alone, more than enough reason to see (and hear!) the show.
The dancing, choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is, alone, more than enough reason to see the show.
The direction, by Ivo Van Hove, together with the scenic and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld is, alone, more than enough reason to see the show.
And the basic idea of the show, traced back to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is, also, more than enough reason to see the show.
Finally, with all those spectacular elements put together, the show is AMAZING! There are few times in life when one finds so much energy, and pleasure, and tragedy, and brilliance in less than two hours.
- The design consists of a back wall on which are projected images and videos, as well as two areas which open; one reveals a dress maker's shop, where Maria is getting a custom-made dress; the other a store where Tony works.
- The videos are mostly live shots of the actors, and the images include outdoor locations which serve as the backdrops for scenes that occur outdoors.
- The live videos plus the live action during the dazzling activity of the dancing and the fighting encompass such a grand scale of action that I felt it would take more than one visit to the show to encompass and appreciate everything that was happening.
- I found the video to be exciting and to contribute to the energy of the show.
- However, the action of the play, with "rumbles" and black vs Puerto Rican gangs squaring off in a formal manner, seems not much like current news, and more like an abstract version of news reports from the era when the original version was created; so the video cameras carried visibly on the stage seemed anachronistic
- The action of West Side Story arises from the conflict of two gangs -- the resident black Jets, and the newly arrived Puerto Rican Sharks.
- but it is not always easy, in the heat of dancing, fighting action, to understand who is who, or which is which.
- In the first photo below, the color theme of the Sharks is reddish, and of the Jets bluish, which helps, but in the photo below that it is much less clear.
- Similarly, the Jets are mostly dark skinned, and the Sharks lighter skinned, but in both pictures below, it is not true of everyone.
- In fact Tony is one of the least Jet-like members of the Jets, and Maria one of the least Shark-like Sharks.
- Is this the point?
- I have little knowledge of dance. For me, the difference in style of the dancing of the Jets and the Sharks was too subtle to be understood as truly significant.
- As in Rome and Juliet, the initial meeting of the two young lovers, here Tony and Maria, must be instantaneous and spectacular love at first sight. Although Shereen Pimentel and Isaac Powell, as performers, convey throughout the play a convincing bond, and they sing together beautifully, at first they seem like an unlikely couple, (in addition to the feeling described above, that neither is a spot-on archetype of their group).
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
Have lost a brace of kinsmen:
Labels: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Arthur Laurents, Dharon E. Jones, Isaac Powell, Ivo van Hove, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, Shereen Pimentel, Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story