|Matilda Walker as Maria|
So it's undoubtedly true to say that several of the Jets look a bit long in the tooth to be "juvenile delinquent" street gang members, and that Lieutenant Schrank's accent veers wildly from Bronx to broad Scots. And some of the cast - like James Twigg as Tony - have been cast against type because of their undeniable vocal talent. It's worth remembering here that even the beloved 1961 film version of the show had to dub both of its young and pretty leads with the voices of less photogenic professional singers. Bernstein's music is notoriously difficult to sing, and to play, and the brave little 21-piece orchestra sometimes stumbles over its more difficult passages.
|James Twigg as Tony|
|Nicola Grey as Anita with cast|
The production is loyal to the book of the original Broadway show, eschewing the changes and cuts that were made for the film and embracing its moments of tragedy and horror. The fantasy sequence framed by 'There's A Place For Us' is magical, though arguably it holds up the action and takes the focus away from the beleaguered lovers out into a wider context - although perhaps that's not a bad thing in an age when so many young people's lives are being blighted by conflict.
The costumes, set and production design are impressive, despite a couple of problems with malfunctioning props and crackling radio mics. The final curtain calls - static, posed, almost dreamlike - round off a great night in the theatre which was actually more involving because of its imperfections. These were real people, flaws and all, delving into the heart of a very human darkness.
Photographs by David Darge - email@example.com courtesy of Starlight Musical Theatre