WEST SIDE STORY – No. 1 Greatest Musical of All Time (THE TIMES)
23 – 26th of March 2017 – The Prague Congress Centre
Provocative finger snapping of street gangs, howling police sirens, Puerto Rican girls’ whirling skirts on New York City’s flat roofs, everlasting love and fateful conflict playing out across derelict West Side backyards – just a few notes of Leonard Bernstein’s turbulent score, featuring songs such as Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty, immediately evoke these images. Images of cool guys and hot girls during a late summer in Manhattan. Images of mambo, jazz and rock’n’roll that shakes you to the core, where love is blind to obstacles or consequences.
The 1957 Broadway premiere of West Side Story redefined the genre of the musical both musically and in terms of dance. The film version, awarded ten Oscars, brought it to an audience of millions. To this day it is the undisputed Number 1 of American musical theatre: daring, realistic, and as relevant as it was on the day of its premiere. West Side Story, one of the most successful stage shows of all time, is finally arriving to the Czech Republic in an award-winning production. It is the only production of the musical in the world that features Jerome Robbins’ original choreography.
Nobody had translated youthful desires, fears, and swagger into dance as timelessly and authentically as Jerome Robbins did in his choreography for West Side Story. And no choreographer before him had achieved anything close to it artistically. For it was not only Leonard Bernstein who braved unchartered waters at the time with his score. Robbins did the same, making his choreography an integral part of the story. Only in the interplay of the two elements – Bernstein’s music and Robbins’ choreography – does West Side Story reveal its true power. To present both as of one piece is a special project. The choreographer Joey McKneely, Jerome Robbins’ former protégé, has achieved this goal in spectacular fashion. His production of West Side Story appears as fresh and dynamic as if had premiered only yesterday.
This is not least due to the young company of performers, all casted in New York City. They perform as if they were living this unique creation, giving it all in their dancing, singing and acting. They do it with technical brilliance and mind-blowing energy, the kind of energy that concentrates deep within, grows, infuses every sinew of the body from toes to fingertips and – POW! – suddenly explodes. The orchestra, expertly led by Leonard Bernstein’s former pupil, the acclaimed conductor Donald Chan, shows off the rich sound quality of this exceptional, manifold masterwork to full effect.
This celebrated original production of West Side Story has played to sold-out houses all over the world, from London to Paris and Sydney to Berlin. In London it was nominated for the most important theatre award, the Laurence Olivier Award. The Hamburger Abendblatt rejoiced: “This West Side Story from New York is acted and danced with the passion of youth – it is a true delight!” Nowhere else will you experience the magnificent masterwork being presented with as much emotion or as packed with suspense.
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