REVIEW: West Side Story, New Theatre Royal, Guildhall

West Side Story by UPDMS is on at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth until March 10
West Side Story by UPDMS is on at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth until March 10
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UPDMS are at the New Theatre Royal this week with an ambitious production of the Laurentis/Bernstein/Sondheim classic.

West Side Story is all about the dance; without dancers, you’re pretty much going to fall flat on your face.

UPDMS are clearly not trained, but most decidedly do not fall flat on anything; there are errors, but the sheer verve of the cast carries them.

Among the lesser roles, Brad Curran as Riff and Ryan Walker as Action stand out. The finest voice on the stage belongs to a character credited simply as Girl – Emma Gooch – whose Somewhere is the high-point of the evening.

As Tony, Thomas Rogers needs to watch his diction, but is amiable enough and demonstrates that he possesses the ridiculously wide vocal-range needed for the part.

As Maria, Sara Shuhaiber shows the same wide range and sings with beautiful clarity. She’s only 18, too. That voice will go far.

There is, however, a show-stealer who holds the attention from the moment she walks onto the stage until the final chords of the show. Zara Lackenby-Brown attacks Anita’s dialogue and vocals like a sea-storm. Very impressive indeed.

I’d have liked a little more pace from Colin Jagger’s wonderful orchestra at times – some of the numbers drag their heels a little.

Until Saturday.