Home Arts & Lit Exeter Footlights: West Side Story review

Exeter Footlights: West Side Story review

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Northcott Theatre, 29 Jan – 1 Feb

West Side Story, directed by Jordan Murphy, has been the most highly anticipated student show during my time at university. For the first time ever in Footlights history, the Northcott Theatre was sold out four nights in a row.

The entire cast. Image credit: Exeter Footlights
The entire cast.
Image credit: Sam Loyd

Despite never having seen West Side Story before, I felt a fond familiarity as I had helped release weekly character blogs on the Exeposé Arts website. This made me even more eager to watch the performance, but also nervous, as doing justice to one of the most well-known musicals of all time is no easy feat.

From the start the dancing was phenomenal and the rivalry between the two gangs was performed excellently. Every detail, each scowl and shove, added further to the tension.

Image credit: Sam Loyd
Image credit: Sam Loyd

The singing throughout the show was impressive; especially the ensemble pieces which further highlighted the cultural differences between the gangs. My absolute favourite number was “América”, sang by the Puerto Rican Shark girls. Their flair was explosive, and if I had to choose a side, the Sharks won me over.

With so many different aspects to cover; dancing, singing, acting, I was amazed how the cast excelled in every single area. The acting was polished throughout, with leading man Nick Kenchington as Tony, leading woman Amy McIntosh as Maria, and Will Kelleher as Shrank giving particularly strong performances.

The star of the show, however, was Vital Mazor, who played Anita. Whilst some of the actors had minor slippage out of their accents, Vital’s accent and entire demeanour was impeccable throughout.

Although the second half was notably shorter than the first, it contained the most entertaining dance. “Gee, Officer Krupke”, performed by the Shark boys, was hilarious, and had the audience in fits of laughter.

The musical accompaniment of the orchestra really shone throughout, and is not to be forgotten. I could hardly believe that the music was live, as it was consistently flawless.

Overall, I cannot fault Footlights. Every aspect of the performance amalgamated to create an exceptional evening. The show was of a standard which was nothing less than professional. I am in absolute disbelief that we have such a high quantity of outstanding talent within our university.

 

Giverny Masso, Online Arts Editor

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