West Side Story at The Arts Centre

You know the story, you’re all too aware of who feels pretty, but it’s unlikely you’ve experienced West Side Story in all of its flamboyant Broadway goodness.

Gale Edwards’ new production of the musical opened at the Arts Centre on Saturday with a sold-out show. From devout fans of the famous classic, to Melbourne socialites, everyone was buzzing to see the latest take on the tragic love story. And of course it didn’t disappoint, with the performance gliding perfectly between comedy and drama by a truly talented cast.

The young and vigorous cast helped create an even more modern retelling of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Their passion and skill obvious in not only the leads but each and every performer. The choreography was by far the highlight, as each routine and movement seemed utterly original when performed by the vivacious dancers.

The set was simple but very effective, with a few added sheets or fairy lights somehow changing the setting dramatically. Huge steel fences and a constant stream of heavy smoke set the mood of a seedy New York alley, and remained as the background for all your favourite bridal shop brawls and balcony scenes. The seamless transition between scenes by stagehands and actors alike were all part of the extraordinarily tight performance. In a word, ‘professional’ describes the entire production. But that’s not to say it lacked emotion or spontaneity.

There were surprisingly tender (albeit corny) moments where I begrudgingly felt a few tears slip from my eyes. Who isn’t a sucker for the greatest love story of all time? If you’re a fan of glittery musical theatre, or want to see something in the big lights that’s a bit more relatable than say, ‘Hamlet’, then it’s certainly worth forking out the comparatively reasonable fee.

As a warning though, you way get the urge to join a delinquent group of perfectly sculpted dancers.

– Ruby
Ruby Brown is a freelance journalist who left sunny Byron Bay for the big smoke (Melbourne) four years ago and now happily calls this cultural hub home.

‘West Side Story’ runs 11 to 19 July 2015 at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
Buy tickets now. The venue is accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Cavanagh PR.