Article by Amelie De Leon
Recently, several international performances have been coming to the Philippines. One of these was the touring cast of the Broadway musical West Side Story, which captivated audiences at The Theatre at Solaire from early August. The production exceeded expectations with its energy–filled dances and its well–loved songs, some of which include “I Feel Pretty” and “Maria”. Most importantly, the show kept audience members on the edge of their seats with a number of gripping scenes throughout the course of the musical.
Inspired by the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story puts a modern twist on the classic tale by setting it in the streets of New York City in the mid-1950s. The musical revolves around rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, who are of different racial backgrounds, and their struggle to establish dominance in their neighbourhood. Tension escalates when Tony, a member of the Jets, falls head over heels for Maria, whose brother leads the Sharks. Their love blossoms in spite of the hostile environment in which they live in. No matter what setbacks are caused by their relationship, they vow to go against all odds for the one they love.
Several members of the ISM community were lucky enough to witness the spectacle. Freshman Nicole Z. says, “My favorite part of the production was definitely the dance-offs. They really showcased the amazing dancing ability of the entire cast.” Similarly, Broadway World Philippines lauded the performance, stating, “This 60th-anniversary homage to the classic deserves a pat on the back for its inexorable attitude to steer clear of the reimagined trend that has swept most musical revivals of the present times.”
On the other hand, freshman Danielle C. remarked, “It felt too cliche for me. Several movies and plays are very similar.” Moreso, the production’s authenticity to the context left audience members snickering in their seats at the characters’ dialogue and dated street slang as younger generations were unable to relate.
Although the feedback was a diverse mix of praise and criticism, everyone agreed that the show remains to be incredibly relevant in today’s society, hence its sustained popularity. “The racial prejudice [displayed] in West Side Story is still present today. I am lucky to be in an international school and not having to face these challenges,” states freshman Sarina M.
If you couldn’t catch the show, not to worry! Be sure to be on the lookout for international productions that will be making their way to the Philippines next year, all of which will surely be as entertaining and enjoyable as West Side Story!