April 20, 2009

My Side of the Story

Cody Green as Riff
21 year old Argentinian Josefina Scaglione as Maria. Her vocal range is stratospheric! Wonderful Broadway debut.
Powerhouse Karen Olivo who's perfect as the spitfire Anita. I hope she gets a Tony nomination. She owned the stage everytime she was on. When Anita went to Doc's, she looked like she could have taken all the Jets down single-handedly.
George Akram as Bernardo
Matt Cavenaugh as Tony. Interesting casting choice because he's nowhere near what I thought Tony would look or sound like.
"America" was a highlight for me.

Robbins. Sondheim. Bernstein. Laurents. West Side Story. How can you go wrong? Seen the movie a few times. Had the album with Kiri Te Kanawa and even The Songs of WSS 1996 pop album. I was genuinely excited as the lights went down and I heard the familiar strains.
But something did go wrong, at least in this audience member's mind. Maybe my inner cynic/Jon Stewart/Joel McHale were to blame: I couldn't help thinking that if these teenaged boys were as tough as they pretend to be, they wouldn't be having balletic dance-offs *pause for gasps of indignation from dance fans*.

I thought Tony looked old enough to know better than to run around with hooligans. Sondheim has said that Tony and Maria were meant to be "one-dimensional characters for a melodrama". Our star-crossed lovers were meant to live in their own bubble. So no personal journeys or character arcs. Only Anita seemed a fully realized character, but that's probably due to Karen Olivo's star-making performance.

Favorite moments? The usual crowd-pleasers: Tonight Quintet, America, Tonight, Maria, A Boy Like That/I have a Love. But the rest of the time, I found myself a bit bored. The first act seemed to drag on. I never could wrap my head around the love story (obviously not a fan of Romeo and Juliet) and was always more drawn to the racism, gang mentality and social issues. But in this revival, I couldn't feel the anger, the urgency, the tension nor the culture clash. Even Officer Krupke lost its snarkiness. Don't get me wrong, the show has a lot going for it. The singing was impeccable, the dancing flawless. Spanish translations in the score and book: makes sense. Somewhere was a disappointment. Even worse, the ending was different and lost its power. Maybe I was a victim of Mermaid-itis yet again (hyping it all up in my head like I did The Little Mermaid and winding up disappointed).

I'm sure many people will disagree (all my viewing companions liked the show---wait for Pinky's review). Please feel free to comment. Seriously. I'd love to hear what you guys think.


Jon said...

I am so jealous. I wanted to see this. The cast looks deliz.

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