REVIEW: West Side Story by LADOS, Grand Theatre, Lancaster

The Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story by the Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society.
The Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story by the Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society.

West Side Story is a tale of two gangs and this LADOS production was very much a tale of two halves.

At its best, West Side Story is a hot-blooded musical of forbidden romance in downtown 1950s New York fused with youthful passion, tribal resentment and vibrant Latin energy. But at times during the first-half of the Wednesday night showing, performances and routines lacked the necessary spark.

The Jet and Shark girls from West Side Story at the Lancaster Grand.

The Jet and Shark girls from West Side Story at the Lancaster Grand.

Act 2 was a vast improvement. The evocative presentation of ‘Somewhere (There’s A Place For Us)’ with James Shields and Claire Savage on main vocals, began the turnaround.

This was followed by the number of the night, my personal favourite from West Side Story, ‘Gee Officer Krupke’.

The Jets (Adam Bardsley, Duncan Ryan, Owen Holland, Samuel Wicks, Jordan Kennedy and William Patrick) performed this with effervescent charm, humour and charisma, bringing the house down with a tremendous routine.

The finale and the murder of Tony (Alexander Taylor) was handled with raw emotion and drama, concluding the show on a high.

Lighting and scenery were excellent throughout.

Standout performances included Simon Yaxley as a convincing Lieutenant Schrank, Santiago Acevedo was well-cast as a brooding Bernardo, Ashleigh Hartin was a sassy Anita, Kirsty Johnson showed bags of personality as Anybody’s, while Catherine Andrews’ powerful operatic vocals made for a memorable Maria.

The LADOS (Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society) show at the Lancaster Grand Theatre ran every night from Tuesday, May 2 to Saturday, May 6 with an additional Saturday matinee.

GREG LAMBERT