2017 is a great time to be a fan of theater. This year alone, both Repertory Philippines and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) celebrated its 50th anniversary, and many productions are being staged. Apart from the booming local theater scene, more and more touring companies are visiting Manila. Just this February, Wicked came to give us a “thrillifying” performance. Now, West Side Story will charm us as it is set to open this August!
West Side Story will be playing for a strictly limited three week season at The Theatre at Solaire starting August 10. The international tour will bring a talented cast, many of whom have performed on Broadway.
West Side Story is a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s set in 1950’s New York and follows two rival gangs of different ethnicities. At the core of the musical is the dangerous romance between Tony, a former member of the Jets, and Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of rival gang Sharks.
It premiered on Broadway in 1957 and became an instant classic. Choreographer Jerome Robbins and composer Leonard Bernstein translated Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim’s timeless story to the stage, adding elements of American jazz, classical, and Latin American music for a feisty performance. It was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning Best Choreography and Best Scenic Design.
In 1961, it was adapted into film by Robert Wise and Robbins, and starred Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. I haven’t seen the musical so I can’t compare, but I fell in love with the soaring score and the electrifying choreography of the film. Some of my favorite songs include “America,” “Gee, Officer Krupke,” and “I Feel Pretty.” The choreography in “Dance at the Gym” was a joy to watch. The film adaptation won 10 of the 11 Oscar nominations.
For West Side Story in Manila, the choreography has been recreated by director and choreographer Joey McKneely, a former student of Robbins. The musical direction is under conductor Donald Chan, a former student of Bernstein.
The Manila season is the latest stop on an international tour, following sold-out shows in London, Paris, Sydney, and Berlin.
I’m so excited to see this when it arrives. I might do the mambo in my seat!
This story is in partnership with Concertus Manila. West Side Story in Manila is made possible thanks to Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila, and is presented by Globe LIVE. Shows are from August 10 to 27, with Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday shows at 8PM, and Saturday and Sunday shows at 3PM and 8PM. For tickets, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph. For more information on Lunchbox Productions and Concertus Manila, visit www.lunchbox-productions.com and Concertus Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.