Posts Tagged west end
Courtesy of Fashion & Modesty
Last night I trawled through my favourite parts of West Side Story (1961) on YouTube. Originally touted as a failure, this Broadway classic has since been classed as one of the best Musicals ever made. It tells the age old story of forbidden love (a not so subtle relook at Romeo & Juliet) in a NYC1950s envisioning. This means racial tensions, disillusioned youth and gang warfare that looks more quaint than menacing to audiences in 2011.
What this (regular) ritual did bring up was the thought of how the majority of Hollywood today is dreadful. Stagnant, overly glossy, no creativity – 85% (I made that percentage up) of films nowerdays are remakes devoid of any character or simplistic cash cows that exist to add nothing in terms of artistic merit. Take a look at the video before – it’s a wonderfully choreographed scene that brings the above issues to life. Combat between gangs through the medium of dance – a literal dancing with death.
Throughout the film, you’ll notice that there doesn’t have to be violence, swearing, grit and yet it’s a cultural snapshot. Immigration in New York was a pressing issue for the Baby Boomers and you can see that throughout the film. Menacing adolescents terrorising the streets – sounds familiar? There’s no Sky News in West Side Story (WST) – no fear to be peddled. Stealing fruit, mindless graffiti, going toe-to-toe with each other with pirouettes. That’s not to say that it’s all harmless fun – anyone who’s a fan will already know the outcome of the film.
Still, skulduggery aside, WST manages to stay relevant for audiences today. This is thanks to the craft that is Leonard Bernstein’s fantastic score – a sweeping mix of delicate love songs and bombastic Latino numbers. Take the lyrics of the playful Officer Krupke as an example. It’s a witty song that not only deals with the issues of abandoned youth, but at the same time is full of humour and drama.
If you’ve never seen it, go out and and catch it on DVD. It’s a shame it’s not on at the West End any more – it’s very good in the flesh.
The last few months have been fairly cultural. I’m a big fan of art, theatre and cinema and the older I get, the more I want to see – I’ve got a real thirst for knowledge that’ll hopefully continue through my life. If I could just recover my passion for reading, that’d be great (it was destroyed by my Literature degree). Anyway, cultural musings aside, a while ago I went to see Hayfever at the Rose Theatre with Captain Chants. Not knowing anything about the show (she kindly provided a free ticket), I approached the performance without expectation. Surprisingly, to both of us, it proved to be a wonderful play, rich in black comedy and unique melodrama. I’m unsure as to whether it’s still being shown, but if so, I implore everyone to see it. It’s really spurred me on to see more theatre and if anyone’s interested in going with me, please get in touch.
Not content with Hayfever, I went to see Grease at The Picadilly theatre in the West End three weeks ago. I’d originally seen it in April, but the performance was cancelled halfway through thanks to a power failure. This time around there weren’t any issues and because it’s been months since I last went, the cast has changed allowing me to approach the musical with fresh eyes. Grease is a favourite of mine (West Side Story is the other) so it was great to see the songs in the flesh. Anyone who enjoyed the film will love the live version, even if the script is slightly different (due to obvious stage limitations).
Finally worth sharing is that I’m off to see The Rat Pack tribute act down in Southampton next Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it (having seen them perform a year ago in London) and again, while they might not be the originals, having a chance to hear a Sinatra clone sing live is an exciting opportunity.