Review by Chloe Waterhouse
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The Tyne Theatre opened its doors 150 years ago, and in celebration of such a momentous event, they decided upon the iconic West Side Story to showcase their lavish auditorium – in all its archaic glory. A modern spin on the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in New York, where the rival Montagues and Capulets are replaced by gun-wielding gangs. Racial tensions emerge between the Puerto Rican immigrants ( The Sharks) and the established white Americans (The Jets). This is intensified when former Jets member Tony (David Nagaj) falls head-over-heals for Maria (Skye Costelloe), sister of The Sharks’s leader, Bernardo (Daniel Johnson).
This production was on an epic scale and with choreographer Simon Pinkney arranging his vast ensemble, the dance routines engulfed the entirety of the stage. I was pleasantly surprised by the orchestral arrangement; as the dense sound reverberated throughout the venue, it really enhanced the experience. The vocal contributions from Skye Costelloe (Maria) were haunting; her stunning soprano captivated the audience, who warmly embraced every note. Some song highlights include the ever-emotive ‘Tonight’ and the exuberant show-stopper ‘America,’ which – judging by the accompanying chorus of laughter from the audience – really amused the crowd.
The production certainly stays true to its original musical roots and the tragic demise of Tony is performed spectacularly. Director Bobby Trotter and the company as a whole delivered a truly spell-binding performance. I left the theatre with teary eyes – and in awe.
The Tyne Theatre really celebrated its 150th anniversary in style. Bravo!