This is one for the PGs, the Pioneer Generation. Together with My Fair Lady, The King & I, West Side Story jets you back to the iconic 60s, the decade of the best in music, song, dance, pop culture, the likes of which we’ll not see again. Which is the over-riding reason to catch West Side Story, now in its last week at Marina Bay Sands Mastercard Theatres.
The Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim masterpiece first saw life as a Broadway musical. The very idea was pooh-poohed by critical pundits who said it would never work. Two gangs fighting in New York City in song and dance? No way.
Yes way. West Side Story became the sold-out show of the decade. What’s not to sell? The story of Romeo and Juliet, with mod cons, two rival gangs, whites and Puerto Ricans (how impossibly politically incorrect today!). The Jets versus the Sharks, the white boy falls for the Latin girl, blood will be shed, to the sounds of the most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear, from the genius of both Sondheim and Bernstein.
Hollywood came calling and the film adaptation bagged 11 Oscars. You know the songs, Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty, I Want To Be In America, Officer Krupke, I feel a tune coming on…
Yes, in the 60s, everyone’s dream was to be in America.
A couple in their 20s seated next found the songs familiar, but not the story. “Romeo and Juliet? Does it have a happy ending?” Begging the question, is Shakespeare dated? For millennials?
West Side Story is a feast in song and dance, and this troupe is tip top quality. Such energy, grace, form, precision, pleasure. The Tony character has the most beautiful singing voice, Maria could have been stronger.
I turned to the PG aunty in the other seat. She saw the original 4 times. “I grew up with this musical, it is my absolute favourite. But I wonder if the story is not dated. Perhaps they could have updated it?” How? Use mini drones and laser beams for the street gang fight?!
Oh. Oh. The millennial girl teared at the end. Not a happy ending then. But a standing ovation nevertheless.
Bring the family, the families that fight together…….