It really is difficult to go too far wrong with Leonard Bernstein’s classic score and Jerome Robbins’s updated, gang-themed Romeo and Juliet.
Forbidden, ill-starred love, some of the most replayed music of the genre and Stephen Sondheim’s witty and clever lyrics provide director Joey McKneely with the platform for a sure fire hit.
Which is exactly what you get at the New Alexandra, a fast paced romp through a troubled post-war New York suburb which remains as relevant today as ever.
If there is an embedded weakness it’s always been the implausibility of the 24-hour romance between Polish Tony and Puerto Rican Maria. It just don’t add up.
But as ever the show has heaps to say about institutionalised racism, the disenfranchisement of youth and the sociology of immigration. It could almost be a leader column in today’s Guardian.
Those ingredients are brought together well by McKneely and his team of gifted singers and dancers.You really couldn’t ask for any more from a touring company.
Especially not from understudy Charlotte Baptie (standing in for an injured Katie Hall) whose roof-raising voice and sweet naïveté breathed hope and expectation into Maria, only to have it snuffed at the end.
The best line in the show: ‘I can kill too because now I have hate’ - is delivered with demented anger.
If anyone comes close to upstaging Baptie, it’s the wonderfully sassy Anita, played by Djalenga Scott who blazes with Latino fire. As ever with West Side Story, it’s the girls who make the running.
- Runs until April 19. Details available at the theatre website.