The brain dead oxygen thieves who constantly bemoan the decline of manners and the failings of today’s youth should take note of the following years from our current contemporary culture.
The first is 1597, when Romeo and Juliet was first published. Fatal gang warfare punctuated by a double suicide.
Inspired by that work was the 1957 musical (them was the golden years right? You old whining bastards) West Side Story.
It’s a dark story of gang warfare, substance abuse, racism, murder, and the wondrous blossom of new love.
The Canberra Philharmonic Society, aka Philo has assembled a monumentally good cast to retell this amazing tale for the next two weeks.
Before I go on here’s what the composer Leonard Bernstein had to say about the production to Rolling Stone:
- “Everyone told us that [West Side Story] was an impossible project…. And we were told no one was going to be able to sing augmented fourths, as with “Ma-ri-a”…. Also, they said the score was too rangy for pop music…. Besides, who wanted to see a show in which the first-act curtain comes down on two dead bodies lying on the stage?… And then we had the really tough problem of casting it, because the characters had to be able not only to sing but dance and act and be taken for teenagers. Ultimately, some of the cast were teenagers, some were 21, some were 30 but looked 16. Some were wonderful singers but couldn’t dance very well, or vice versa… and if they could do both, they couldn’t act.”
That was New York at the height of Broadway. Somehow today Philo here in Canberra is blessed with a cast that can belt out the score, dance, and act their socks off.
(More, and a slideshow below)
Before we go further allow me to doff my lid to Robyn Collins and Tim dal Cortivo, the leads of Maria and Tony. They have sensational voices and between them totally evoke to the audience the feeling of new love.
New love is a dangerous thing. It’s easy to fall into the fantasy of a person you’ve never seen pegging their smalls to the line. Get too hooked on it and you throw away great relationships in favour of the thrill of the new. That way lies madness.
Far better to keep what you have and experience the wonder of new love vicariously through actors at the theatre.
If you get excitement, and catchy songs along the way? So much the better!
As I left the theatre, after seeing and photographing the final dress rehearsal, I was humming, and then even singing to myself “Tonight… Tonight…” So yes, they convinced me.
More importantly, for long time lovers of the work, the classic and hilarious song “Officer Krupke” (a great depiction of society’s willingness to cave into hoodlums and betray the police) was delivered with an exuberance that is not equalled by the broadway recordings of my own youth.
It’s simply world class.
If you know any troubled kids take them along to see the tragedy of their path. If you already know and love West Side Story get yourself along to see it.
It’s all local (and very young) talent singing, dancing, and acting an epic story to the height of the art. What more could you want?
Tickets are available from the Philo website