Review: West Side Story, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Joe Pasquale as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Picture: Michael Wharley

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Quite what a true connoisseur of West Side Story would make of Joey McKneely’s production of the much-loved musical remains open to debate.

As a West Side Story novice I, perhaps shamefully, knew just two things about the show beforehand – it’s a reworking of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and one of its songs was used for the 1994 football World Cup.

This means I’m not best suited to give a critique of its adaptation from previous efforts.

However, from this extraordinary fusion of music, movement and story, it’s not hard to see why – 57 years on from its Broadway debut – the show remains a classic.

Following the doomed love affair of Tony and Maria and their rival New York gangs the Jets and the Sharks, the stream of toe-tapping hits with spine-tingling duets and eye-catching choreography keeps you entranced from beginning to end.

This was also the night for the under-studies to make their mark which Charlotte Baptie and Sinead Kenny - taking on the main female roles of Maria and Anita respectively – did with stunning effect.

Louis Maskell was particularly impressive as Maria’s star-crossed lover Tony, his highlight being an effortless rendition of the rousing Something’s Coming.

Add to the mix the show-stopping Somewhere and my personal favourite America (yes, the one from the World Cup) and you’ve got a must for any fan of musical theatre.

What took me so long?