Monday, 12 July 2010

Review: West Side Story the Musical

I promised (and wrote!) this a really really long time ago, and I thought I ought to post it before I started posting the other in-progress stuff ^^;;;

My sister had been hearing alot of good things about West Side Story, so when they came to Malaysia, she was understandably excited. And so, as the story goes, my family and I went to watch the musical on Saturday, 15th May 2010.

My review:

Location: Um, my knowledge of Malaysian geography is really awful (I only know how to get to Mid Valley and my office and maybe Jalan Sultan Ismail from my house LOL) so I can't comment much here ^^;; It was held at Istana Budaya, if that helps at all.

Music: The music was so-so. There were a few good songs that I quite liked, but some other songs weren't really to my liking while others were just lackluster and not very memorable. My sister, her friends and I all agree that the singing really wasn't up to our expectations. I felt that the only one who had a particularly striking voice was the female lead, Maria. On the other hand, if you took away all the lyrics and the singing, the instrumental music was gorgeous!

(On a random note - the song "I feel pretty" sounds much much nicer in Spanish than it does in English!)

Storyline: Well, the storyline is meant to be a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. I will admit that it is probably a favourite basis for many stories, and I can see so many ways in which this basic idea could be an emotional and touching story. However, the way in which the script was written made West Side Story absolutely corny and lame to the core (and not in a good way), not to mention that it sounded like something a hormonal 14 year old would write for fanfiction - and I would definitely be able to recognise that sort of story, having been one of those hormonal fanfiction-writing 14 year olds myself. (:P)

As time goes on and I think back more on the musical, I begin to see more clearly that some parts that I had hated did tie in with the story and give an appropriate background for the setting, but it still doesn't change that they were badly done. Alot of the characters don't have any background story, so I feel like I don't know the character well enough to emphatize with/hate them or understand their side of the story. I also rather felt that the American side of the story was more developed than the Puerto Rican side, which made it seem rather lopsided.

Other comments: The pace of the story is quite odd. It starts off at a slow pace, with alot of contemporary dancing and dialogue, and seems to get even slower as the musical goes on, until it suddenly climaxes and spins to a stop within ten minutes of the end of the musical. Rather too abrupt an ending to be enjoyable. (But there was this very amusing moment where Maria screams like she's that girl in the Exorcist. It was meant to be a solemn and serious moment, but the instant I heard it, I just had to giggle!)

Speaking of Maria, my sister and I found her accent very annoying. Once again, we understand that it's meant to reflect her non-American roots, but still.... we really could do without it! Maria was quite a whiny character too. Maybe it was the whining rather than the accent that got on my nerves!

On another note, there were too many contemporary dances for my liking. Don't get me wrong - they were very beautifully choreographed dances, but my sister and I didn't quite see the point in alot of it. I felt like they were just there to bulk out the performance. As my sister said, it feels more like we're watching So You Think You Can Dance? rather than a musical.

Recommendation: I honestly wouldn't recommend this to anyone. A friend has told me that the movie was really good, so perhaps that would be a better alternative. But at least I can now say I've watched it, and will avoid this musical for the rest of my life.


shigatsuhana said...

I think it must have been the production you saw. I saw the Jerome Robbins version on Broadway many many years ago in New York and I loved it!
I think this story was written in the 50's. It should have that feel to it. If it didn't then it wasn't a good adaptation.

Priscilla said...

Hmmm, after hearing that, I think that I may have to try watching it again if I ever go to the US ^^; Mamma Mia was also awful on stage when they came to Malaysia!