When I decided to indulge myself in the cultural life of Glasgow, I didn't expect to find that so many of my favourite musicals will be performed at the King’s Theatre. Starting with Paisley Musical and Operatic society’s production of West Side Story (23-27 February), my all-time favourite Grease (13-17 April), the rock’n’roll musical Save the last dance for me (03-07 May) and finally Footloose (13-18 June). I guess, you can image how excited I was, as I immediately went to buy tickets for the premier night of West Side Story. A piece of advice, if you want to go to the box office to buy your ticket, then you should go to Theatre Royal, not King’s Theatre, as tickets can be purchased only at the Theatre Royal.
So, as the night approached I started listening to some of the songs from the West Side Story the movie (1961). But first for those of you, who don't know the story of the musical here is a resume. West Side Story was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. The story is set in New York in the mid-1950s, and explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic background - the Jets (the American boys) and the Sharks (the Puerto Ricans). Tony, best friend of Riff, the leader of the Jets meets Anita, the sister of Bernardo the leader of the Sharks, at the neighbourhood dance and falls in love with her. This causes the rivalry between the two gangs to escalate to the level, where they engage in a rumble, leading to the death of Riff and Bernardo. Although, Tony is responsible for the death of Bernardo, Maria’s love is so strong that she is willing to forgive him and they make plans to escape together. However, as Romeo and Juliet fall into the trap of misleading information, Tony believes that Maria is dead, killed by Chino, who she was supposed to marry. Thus, Tony calls for Chino to kill him and to be once again reunited with his beloved. The musical ends with Maria blaming the members of the two gangs for the death of the three boys, and the gangs finally uniting in their grief.
With that in mind, I was quite excited to see the musical and listen to some of my favourite songs – “America”, “Tonight” and “A boy like that” performed by the PMOS. As I've watched only the movie adaptation of the story, I was surprised to see that some of the musical numbers are different. Particularly the song “America”, about the differences of living in Puerto Rico and America, in the movie is sang by Anita and Bernardo and has a slightly different lyrics. In the musical it was sang by Anita, defending America and Rosalia, defending Puerto Rico, and it was a number performed only by the girls. Another musical number I did not quite notice when watching the movie, was the number performed by the Jets – “Gee Officer Krupke”. It became one of the most applaud numbers by the public and my favourite one, by being a humoristic one, in which Action and the Jets proclaimed to be sociologically sick and misunderstood by society. The star of the night was definitely Gillian Gray, portraying Maria, who was exceptional in her acting and singing, reaching those high notes, which only a true Maria can reach. And let’s not forget Kevin McGuire, portraying Tony, who was an amazing singing partner, making Gray and McGuire the perfect singing duo. Another girl who gave a fantastic performance that night was Lindsey Ross, portraying Anita. All the dance numbers were incredible, with the dance number especially the “Dance at the Gym”.
So, if you are still wondering what to do this week, you can head to the theatre and dive into the world of New York in the 1950s, with three hours of dramatic performances and intense musical numbers and experience West Side Story the best musical of all times, which explores the theme of forbidden and impossible love. In the meantime, you can get a grasp of the musical by watching this behind the scene video.
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A girl from Bulgaria, travelling around Europe and sharing her travelling experiences! Currently living in Scotland.