It’s a violent and a visceral experience. The stage — grey and minimalist — is set right from the beginning
Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017
It’s surreal to watch one of the world’s long-enduring romantic musicals, West Side Story, on Valentine’s Day.
You see couples, dressed impeccably with a flash of red, drink in the celebrated themes of forbidden emotion, flush of first love and tragedy with relish as they enjoy the dazzling Leonard Bernstein production staged at the Dubai Opera.
It’s a violent and a visceral experience. The stage — grey and minimalist — is set right from the beginning.
We have two rival gangs in New York’s Upper West Side — the Jets (born in America with Polish roots) and The Sharks (Puerto Ricans who immigrated to the US) — indulging in a mean turf war.
Their robust moves as they fight for supremacy are dazzling.
The men have the grace of ballet dancers but their energetic steps as they tell their story is dramatic and captivating. Beneath their fight for supremacy, these young immigrants are just looking for acceptance in a hostile world — a theme that resonates in today’s turbulent times and the rocky political climate in the United States.
The highlight was, however, the star-crossed romance between Maria and Tony who belong to different sides of the rival gang. Their secret meeting at the bridal shop as they sing Tonight and Maria getting ready for her date with a rendition of I feel Pretty makes you want to fall in love. Yes, it can get cheesy and there’s a bit of over-acting, but all’s forgiven when you see their vitality on stage.
The feisty Anita, the leader of The Sharks’ girlfriend, puts a smile on your face with her fierce moves too.
This is an ode to Romeo-Juliet and it’s guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.
Be prepared to fall in love.
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West Side Story runs at the Dubai Opera until February 18. For tickets, starting at Dh250, go to dubaiopera.com
Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Senior Reporter
Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.