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‘West Side Story’

Published Friday 12th of February 2016 08:08:13 AM

St Benedict’s Senior School students staged a dazzling production of ‘West Side Story’ with four performances on 3rd – 6th February. It was a showcase of the breadth and depth of talent within the school community inspired by the encouragement and vision of Ms Katie Ravenscroft, Head of Drama. Dr Hilary Harper (English teacher) reviews the play: It is a sadly relevant choice given the current anti-immigrant rhetoric but it also owes a literary debt to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ This combination of anti-immigrant gang warfare and doomed first love is as potent today as ever. The two lead roles were taken by Sam Lubkowski as Tony and Siofra Boyle as Maria. Sam Lubkowski’s strong, expressive voice was compelling and his Tony was sweet and sincere, a perfect match for Siofra Boyle’s innocent and delicate Maria. Their duets ‘Tonight’ and ‘Somewhere’ were emotionally as well as musically striking. Siofra Boyle achieved a lucidity and clarity of voice both when speaking and singing whilst maintaining an authentic sounding accent. James Porter as an arrogant Bernardo and Lola Stewart a feisty Anita also made a powerful couple. James Porter was like a peacock displaying Bernardo’s sense of pride and his seething anger at the racism experienced by his community. Lola Stewart was a sassy figure delivering her lines in ‘America’ with humorous sarcasm. They were ably assisted by Robbie Renna’s Chino who was touching as a rather hapless suitor to Maria in the first half before the tragic events of the second half turned him into a frighteningly murderous and vengeful figure. Conor O’Hara’s excellent Riff took charge of his Jets helped by Matthew Carr’s memorable performance as Action, which was an unnerving portrait of simmering violence which kept erupting into brutal frenzied acts of hormonal aggression. The choreography of the warfare between the Jets and the Sharks, in the first half’s ‘The Dance at the Gym’ and in the second half’s ‘The Rumble’, brilliantly captured the urban swagger of the gangs. Leonard Bernstein’s visceral score was dynamically delivered by Mr Eastwood (Director of Music) and his orchestra, made up of pupils as well as of professional musicians.
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