Review: West Side Story, Grand Opera House

They deserved a standing ovation: the cast of West Side Story in full flow. Photograph © Duncan Lomax /
31 Jul 2015 @ 6.31 pm
| News

West Side Story by Stage Experience

Grand Opera House, York

Until Saturday, 7.30pm and a 2.30pm Saturday matinee


Theatre website

A riot of colour, a spectacle of dance and a musical delight were the order of the day when West Side Story opened at the Grand Opera House.

Amateur company Stage Experience’s young cast wowed the audience with a superbly choreographed rendition of this timeless classic.

There were several familiar faces from local theatre in the cast as well as some new faces, all putting on a truly professional performance.

With a cast of around 50 talented individuals it feels almost harsh to only single out a few for mention, especially as a lot of what made the show work was the teamwork and interaction between the cast.

Connor Mellor took on the role of Riff, the leader of the Jets. Both he and Reece McMahon as Action brought the Jets to life with their arrogant swaggers and violent yet graceful moves.

The Jets were brought to life… Photograph © Duncan Lomax /
The Jets were brought to life… Photograph © Duncan Lomax /

Scott Goncalves is Tony, the former Jet who falls in love and tries to steer the gang away from violence. His character was much softer and gentler, something which he portrayed very well.

His duets with Ria Williams, who stole the audiences hearts as Maria, were beautiful.

Two others that stood out for me were Kitty Watson as Anita and Charlotte McCamley as Rosalia. Their rendition of America was definitely a favourite of the audience, as was Gee, Officer Krupke sung by the Jets.

When you look a little deeper into the story it’s not just Romeo and Juliet, it’s teenage angst, racism and grown ups telling kids what to do, or rather what not to do.

‘The choreography was absolutely spot on…’ Photograph © Duncan Lomax /
‘The choreography was absolutely spot on…’ Photograph © Duncan Lomax /

I was curious as to what my 12 year old would make of it, not having seen the show before. She loved it.

I may have shed a tear at the end, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. That final scene from Maria was an incredibly strong and emotional performance.

West Side Story isn’t just a musical, it’s as much about the dance as it is the songs. The choreography was absolutely spot on, particularly in the large ensemble numbers where the stage is full.

Everyone gave an enthusiastic and talented performance, and there was a real buzz of energy from the whole cast.

It’s a sad story, but a feel good show and you’re in for an evening of excellent entertainment. The only thing missing from this performance was the standing ovation the cast deserved. They well and truly earned one.