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Review: West Side Story, the children’s theatre company, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, to July 25

PUBLISHED: 09:32 23 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:04 23 July 2015

Evelyn White and John Halifax as Maria and Tony in the ctc's production of West Side Story at the New Wolsey. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Evelyn White and John Halifax as Maria and Tony in the ctc's production of West Side Story at the New Wolsey. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

A warning to other amateur, semi or professional groups - you don’t want to rumble with this cast.

The ctc's production of West Side Story at the New Wolsey.. Photo: Mike KwasniakThe ctc's production of West Side Story at the New Wolsey.. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Transplanting Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York, lives are changed forever when ex-Jets gang member Tony falls for Maria, whose brother Bernardo runs rival gang the Sharks. Dealing with adult themes, the show is considered a game-changer in the history of American musical theatre.

Each and every one of the members gave their all.

It seems patronising pointing out they’re just 14-21, but they handled everything thrown at them with a maturity beyond their years. There were no compromises, no allowances made because of their youth. Such was the strength of the performances, you soon forget you’re watching a youth production. It was a breath-taking night that had many on their feet applauding and even more crying.

One of director Bridie Rowe’s all-time favourite shows, she admitted it was the ctc’s most challenging, most intense, most passionate show to date. It was a near faultless opening night; the only issue being you had to strain to hear snatches of dialogue from time to time. A problem with the mics rather than the actors’ delivery.

Samantha Patching’s challenging choreography was executed exceptionally well, utilising every inch of the simple but effective set.

John Halifax and Evelyn White completely sold Tony and Maria’s doomed love story. Their chemistry was amazing. Charlotte Sheehan gave them a run for their money as Anita. She stole most scenes she was in, effortlessly switching from comedy to pathos.

Standout numbers for me were America, Somewhere and Gee, Officer Krupke. The latter was worthy of the standing ovation alone.

Tickets are selling understandably fast and you really don’t want to miss out.

Go behind the scenes here.

Wayne Savage


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