I was invited to watch West Side Story last night at Istana Budaya. Had seats with a fabulous view, thanks to Joe and Zubaidah (thank you!), and it’s always such a pleasure for me to “return” to IB, ESPECIALLY when I’m in the stalls instead of up onstage.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this staging of West Side Story mostly because the traveling productions that have previously come our way really left much to be desired.
I also never watched the movie in full before this and never got the chance to watch West Side on stage anywhere in the world.
I spent Sunday evening watching the movie (with my kids too, as I wanted to prepare them mentally before I decide if it could even be a good idea to bring them to IB). I must say Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer will always be a hard act to follow. Their performances of Tony and Maria were just so engaging, riveting and believable, you really want to see them run away and be together forever.
The production that came our way, the one I watched at IB last night, was probably the best of the “From Broadway” offerings to Malaysian audiences so far.
Putting on a show of ANY kind is a huge challenge in itself, with logistics, talent, preparation and set-up to figure out amongst so many other things. I always take my producer’s hat off to anyone who gets a show ON stage.
If anyone asked what I loved BEST about WSS, I’d say the music was really tight considering most of the musicians were assembled locally.
The choreography deserves 2 thumbs way up too, as well as the dancers. Pat Ibrahim was right, “makan hati” is the right term to describe it. He would DIE to have an ensemble of dancers trained so well and able to execute moves to perfection. We have a long, long way to go in this area but we’ll get there.
What did I LEAST like about the show? Hmmm…
The leads who played Tony and Maria had fabulous singing voices, and Maria put in special effort to adopt a Puerto Rican accent. The other actors had trouble hiding their accents though, I could tell they had trouble pulling off a New York accent without their native accents that sounded Scottish or Irish coming through. That’s not major though, and it shouldn’t put anyone off watching the show because of it.
What was a put off for me though was the acting. When I read that the show was directed by Joey McKneely who was also the choreographer of the show, I imagined 80% of the preparation for the show would definitely have been in the choreography and not in directing the actors or working on characterization or the actor’s emotional preparation. I didn’t feel for the two lovers, so I didn’t root for them and didn’t care for them much.
It's not easy for me as part of audience investing 2-3 hours in a captive space when you're not emotionally involved in the journey of who's on stage.
Still, just for the experience of watching a classic Broadway musical, since it's so rare an opportunity for us to enjoy such productions here anyway, I'd say go catch it, if you can afford to pay almost rm600 for a ticket.
I came across a website offering tickets at 15%, here it is:
Enjoy 15% off your tickets to the West Side Story - The Original Broadway Musical from New York at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur from 12th till 24th May 2010 with your HSBC Credit Card.
Ticket prices (before discount):
RM590, RM490, RM390, RM290, RM190 (excludes RM3 ticketing fee)
Call Tickets People at 03-2287 2727 or visit website to book.
Offer valid for HSBC Credit Cardmembers only.