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David Streeter

'With iconic musical shows - it does not matter if you have previously seen them on stage, television or cinema - expectations are high. Couple this with the creative challenges facing the production team to enable a show with such a high dance and movement content plus the sightline difficulties of The Montgomery Theatre, then I suspect a few sleepless nights must have occurred.

The shows subject matter is not beautiful. Here we have two street gangs who live in the harsh reality of tenement New York, fighting for supremacy. Leonard Bernstein's music score, coupled with the lyrics of the wonderful Stephen Sondheim, lift the show from a potentially drab street life storyline to one of love, aligned as is so often, with tragedy.

This Splinters Theatre Group production of West Side Story is a night of well choreographed dancing, tight acting, disciplined stage blocking and excellent singing.

The early stage entrance of the basketball practice prior to the overture and initial scene tended to keep things at a slow pace. However the pace increased with the drilled choreography and the individual characters and passion of each street gang member.

Adam Walker (Tony) paired so well with Grace Hadabora (Maria). Adam delivered his musical numbers with confidence and feeling, whilst Grace was soft, glowing and equally confident. From the balcony scene onward, the audience wanted the ending to be different from that which they knew was inevitably coming. Josh Holliday (Riff), Jack Skelton (Bernardo) and Millie Scott (Anita) equally deserve a mention as they held together key scenes.

This powerful story works not only because of the key characters but because of the two gangs. It was great to watch a young company put their own mark and considerable passion on the various gang member parts. Nobody cruised on stage.

Let's not forget the talented female ensemble. The 'America' scene and action routines was one that I would have willingly watched a second time.

Being a sentimentalist the production highlight for me was the duet 'One Hand, One Heart'. Beautiful. A musical theatre high spot.

The audience was with this production all the way. Tension was so high that nervous laughter occurred during the fatal final scene. Nothing that can't be fixed with a minor entrance reblock.

Congratulations to the creative team of Adam, Matthew and Sarah, assisted by Kate Parkin and Anna Hollis. Beautifully staged. Finally all the accolades must go to the on stage performing company, both named characters and ensemble. An evening of great community theatre.'