National Youth Music Theatre – West Side Story

Walking into the legendary Victoria Warehouse and sensing the simmering anticipation for the opening performance of NYMT’s production of West Side Story is a feeling I won’t forget in a long, long time.

By Manchester's Finest | August 22nd '13

Walking into the legendary Victoria Warehouse and sensing the simmering anticipation for the opening performance of NYMT’s production of West Side Story is a feeling I won’t forget in a long, long time.

National-Youth-Music-Theatre-West-Side-Story

Takis’ set design is awesome, imposing yet intimate; the vast stage set amongst the interior rawness of the Warehouse with its exposed brickwork and wide open spaces is stunning. Shipping containers are used to superb effect to create height and intimacy, all is complimented perfectly by Ben Cracknell’s outstanding lighting design, moving from the fast and punchy to the dark and murky with shadows cast beautifully on the surrounding brickwork, through to the truly beautiful and breath-taking.

With a cast of forty I knew we were in for a treat vocally, what I hadn’t anticipated was the absolute visual thrill Drew McOnie’s outstanding choreography would offer. Raw, energetic and original every single cast member put their heart and soul into each and every piece. I sat in my seat desperate to be up there and be one of the girls, Sharks or Jets I couldn’t care less, everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives. Director Nikolai Foster has worked so hard to ensure his cast use every inch of this delightful space to its full advantage; it truly is an epic production.

With a cast of forty I knew we were in for a treat vocally, what I hadn’t anticipated was the absolute visual thrill Drew McOnie’s outstanding choreography would offer.

At times you forget this is a youth theatre, any West End performer would give their right arm to deliver performances like the ones we’ve seen tonight. The intimacy and affection between the exceptional Jon Tarcy (Tony) and Amara Okereke (Maria) is heart-warming and their delivery of ‘One Hand, One Heart’ simply beautiful. Sienna Kelly (Anita) is outstanding, strong, emotional, passionate and proud, no doubt on her way to becoming a big, big star. Compliments should be paid to each cast member, the ensemble is tight and immensely talented, particular highlights being the comical performances from the Jets during ‘Officer Krupke’ and the goose bump-inducing, ‘Tonight’ delivered by the entire company.

The 35-strong orchestra delivers Leonard Bernstein’s classic score from the back of the stage exquisitely. Tom Deering conducts his musicians faultlessly the hard work and dedication of this exceptional team is admirable.

The National Youth Theatre have created something truly special here tonight, the standing ovation is more than deserved, if you have to beg, steal or borrow do whatever it takes to see this outstanding show.