When two gangs, The Sharks and The Jets go to war there will ultimately be no winners. Cleverly adapting Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, our star crossed lovers are a beautiful Puerto Rican immigrant, Maria and Tony a Polish boy born in America.
Catherine Harban as Maria and Josh Coburn as Tony have great voices and sing some sweet harmonies together, including Tonight and One Hand, One Heart. They act appropriately ingenuously having fallen in love at first sight. Josh is only seventeen and should have a fine career ahead of him.
Maria’s brother Bernardo, leader of The Sharks, is played by the consistently terrific Mark Harris. He shares great on stage chemistry with sexy girlfriend Anita, played by Sarah Mashford.
Riff, the leader of The Jets, is played by youngster Jonathan Stewart. He puts in a commanding performance, looking to be in total control of his gang. Phil Brownhill does a Columbo as Schrank and Gareth Lloyd is an almost cartoonish Officer Krupke.
The songs are memorable. Maria, America and I Feel Pretty being the most recognisable. Director Dee Bennie-Marshall and Assistant Claire Harriott have put in some fine choreography. The colourful mambo at the gym is slick and impressive whilst the dancing for Cool was unexpected and original. Gee Officer Krupke brought light relief to a tragic tale.
The live orchestra was tight and added dynamism to the musical numbers. The sets were well done. Almost every scene brought a change, be it a battleground or the lovers’ balcony.