West Side Story
Trinity Players bring iconic fifties musical to life in style at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall. The clash between the Jets and the Sharks in this most famous of musicals is the stuff of theatre legend and this local production of West Side Story, co-directed by Jennifer Holyhead and Matthew Collins, is a resounding hit.
West Side Story, which must be the most famous Shakespeare adaptation of all time, transports Romeo and Juliet from fourteenth century Italy to twentieth century America. Montagues and Capulets are replaced with Jets and Sharks in a story which is as much, if not more, about intolerance as it is about love. Trinity Players’ large and talented cast of actors, singers and dancers convey both the conflict and romance powerfully in an evening of theatre guaranteed to delight with a host of familiar songs with lyrics by the late great Stephen Sondheim.
Any successful production of West Side Story hinges on the chemistry between Tony and Maria: Dan Barnes and Libby Buick do not disappoint. The connection between these star-crossed lovers is there from the moment they lock eyes during the dance at the gym. They lead the whole company in emotional performances which capture both the giddy joy and the heart-breaking pain of love and loss. Dan Barnes rendition of ‘Maria’ is moving and beautifully delivered and Libby Buick is heart-breaking in the finale.
The doomed lovers are ably supported by the whole cast: Dan McCloskey has swagger and an imposing presence as Jets gang leader Riff and Ross Gilby’s dancing stands out in his sharp and fiery portrayal of Sharks gang leader Bernardo. But it’s Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita, played by Leigh-Ann James, who creates some of the evening’s most memorable moments. She brings sass and sexy confidence to the iconic role of Maria’s confidante: ‘A Boy Like That’ pulses with frustration and fury.
The set is effective, making great use of the Town Hall dance floor to bring the story out into the audience. The orchestra, obscured but visible through the wire fencing, feel like an integral part of the action and rise impressively to the challenge of delivering Leonard Bernstein’s score.
Treat yourself and escape to the backstreets of New York for an evening guaranteed to bring the heat and passion of Manhattan’s West Side to the West Midlands.